Liverpool kept-up their relentless charge of closing down the gap at the top of the table by earning a dramatic 4-3 victory over Swansea City last weekend. However, many felt that the Reds were perhaps fortunate to grab all three points from the match and they will certainly have to put-in a better defensive performance in order to earn maximum points from a tough-looking clash against Southampton at the St. Mary’s Stadium on Saturday.
Simon Mignolet let-in seven goals and did not manage to register a single clean-sheet throughout the month of February, which would have disappointed the Liverpool custodian. Although he has not done much wrong in the last few matches, the goalkeeper needs a clean sheet to boost his, as well as the Liverpool back-four’s confidence.
It will not be easy to keep the dynamic Southampton attack at bay though, and Mignolet will certainly have to put in a more commanding display to earn a clean sheet this weekend.
The deficiencies of the Liverpool back-four have been cruelly exposed in the last few games and have relied on the attackers to bail them out in the last couple of matches. Despite having most of his first choice defenders back, Rodgers saw his side too easily breached by Swansea and the Northern Irishman will certainly be expecting a better performance from his back four on Saturday.
Mamadou Sakho has returned to training but the clash may have come too soon for the Frenchman and he is most likely to start from the bench.
Daniel Agger was hauled off midway through the second half last week but Rodgers has given the Danish centre back a vote of confidence ahead of the clash and he should continue at the heart of the defence alongside Martin Skrtel.
Jose Enrique is still out, which means that Glen Johnson will continue at left-back while young Jon Flanagan will be deployed on the right. The likes of Aly Cissokho, Martin Kelly and Kolo Toure will also be in contention.
Liverpool have been handed a boost with the return of Lucas as well, but the Brazilian may not be fit enough to start the clash against Southampton, which means that there should not be too many changes to the Reds’ midfield.
Captain Steven Gerrard will be pulling the strings from a deep position while the tireless Jordan Henderson will be the engine at the heart of the midfield. The fleet-footed Philippe Coutinho will be providing the creative spark and young Raheem Sterling will offer width on the right hand side.
The league’s best attacking pairing Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge will be leading the line for the Reds. Sturridge has been in red-hot form recently scoring nine goals in his last seven league appearance, but Luis Suarez has only scored one in his last six. Sturridge will surely be looking to continue his hot streak, while Suarez will be itching to break his mini drought against the Saints.
Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Flanagan; Sturridge, Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho, Sterling; Suarez