It was another late win for Brendan Rodgers and Liverpool. After struggling to find a good shot against the Besiktas ‘keeper, the team was finally able to break the tie with a late penalty goal. They will now face one of the more surprising teams in the Premier League in Southampton.
The Saints are currently in fourth place and feature an extremely solid defense so they are more than capable of holding their own against the Reds. However, Rodgers and the team should be coming into this match with some confidence since they beat Southampton earlier in the season, when they still used the 4-2-3-1 formation rather than the 3-4-2-1.
It will be interesting to see whether Rodgers decides to rotate his starting 11 more often since the team will be going through a tough gauntlet of games the next few weeks.
Simon Mignolet did well to save a Demba Ba shot, but was otherwise not troubled by the Besiktas attack at all but he should face a much more difficult test this weekend. Even though Southampton has struggled to score in recent matches, they do have multiple players who can put the ball in the back of the net.
Kolo Toure may be back to the lineup after returning from winning the Africa Cup of Nations with Ivory Coast. While adding Toure to the back line makes them slower and with less passing, he still reads the game very well and is always cool under pressure.
Martin Skrtel will likely be going up against Graziano Pelle one-on-one and he will have to be on the top of his game since the Italian striker excels when the ball is in the air. Mamadou Sakho was solid again on the left side of the defense but also showed his passing skills by starting many of the Liverpool counters. He should be able to handle whoever starts on the right side of the Southampton attack.
Jordon Ibe once again was a beast for the Reds against Besiktas. He earned the match winning penalty and he tortured opposing left back Ramon all night with his physical play and direct running. He should be able to excel against the more offensive-minded Ryan Bertrand, but Ibe will also have to help the defense deal with Dusan Tadic who leads the Saints with 7 assists.
With the injuries to many of the players who operate in central midfield, Rodgers may opt to finally pair Jordan Henderson and Emre Can together in the middle of the pitch. They offer a good balance of both offense and defense, those who thought that Can was more attacker, than defender have been proved wrong by his fantastic play as one of the three center backs.
Lazar Markovic will likely start since he did not play against Besiktas because of his suspension. While he is a better player when placed out on the right side of the formation, he should use this opportunity as a way to have a good performance against one of the better right backs in the Premier League in Nathaniel Clyne. The Serbian’s work rate will also make him a pest for Shane Long.
Rodgers needs a strong offensive front line in order to break through the best defense in the Premier League. Adam Lallana will want to start after missing the first match against his former team because he was injured. He will be motivated to perform well in front of the fans in St. Mary’s Stadium.
Since Daniel Sturridge played the entire against Besiktas, he is unlikely to start again this weekend. Mario Balotelli has been excellent as an impact substitute the past few matches and he looks more confident than ever before.
With Philippe Coutinho looking more and more tired in each match, he should be given a day off by Rodgers. Raheem Sterling should fit right in after coming back from a foot injury and he will be confident in his ability to break through the Saints’ defense again after having a man of the match performance in the first meeting between the two clubs.
Via – Lineup Builder