Two sides with genuine Champions League ambitions meet today (Sunday) as Southampton welcome Liverpool to St Mary’s.
The Saints are fourth in the table on 46 points and have suffered just one defeat in their last nine league matches. Southampton were held to a goalless draw at home by 10-man West Ham in their most recent league outing on Feb. 11, even though the visitors had goalkeeper Adrian sent off on 60 minutes for handling the ball outside the area.
Southampton didn’t have a FA Cup fixture last weekend or a midweek European match, so will be relatively fresh for Liverpool’s trip to the South Coast.
Saints manager Ronald Koeman insists he will be aiming to take maximum points from the Reds.
“You think I’m thinking about losing a game? No way,” Koeman said at his pre-match press conference. “I am thinking to win the game. I am not negative thinking.
“We have four points more than Liverpool, and if we win, seven (points) and it will be very difficult for Liverpool. We don’t feel that pressure, we put our pressure to the way how we like to play football. Of course, closer and closer to the end of the season you look to the table, that’s normal.”
Liverpool are in seventh place – only four points behind Southampton – and have lost only once in their last 17 matches in all competitions The Reds and are the only side yet to lose a Premier League match in 2015.
The Merseysiders have had busy time of late. They beat Tottenham 3-2 in their latest league match at home on Feb. 10, before clinching a place in the FA Cup quarter-finals after winning 2-1 at Crystal Palace last Saturday.
The Reds finished off a hectic nine days with a 1-0 win at Anfield on Thursday against Turkish side Besiktas in a Europa League Round of 16 first-leg clash. Mario Balotelli scored the winner against Besiktas when he converted a 85th-minute penalty after rowing with stand-in Reds captain Jordan as to who should take the spot-kick.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was in bullish mood at his pre-match briefing on Friday.
“We respect Southampton and the work that they have done this year,” Taylor said. “But we know that we have got the quality and confidence at the moment to go there and get a result.
“If we can get a victory and go within a point, it probably takes us to where we thought it would be, edging our way towards (the top four) after a really difficult start. That’s what we’ll continue to do, just step by step.”
Southampton trio Matt Targett, Morgan Schneiderlin and Shane Long are all back in contention, while Toby Alderweireld remains sidelined.
Reds skipper Steven Gerrard has been ruled out again with a hamstring problem.
Liverpool beat Southampton 2-1 at Anfield in the opening match of the Premier League season. Raheem Sterling put the Reds in front on 23 minutes, only to see Nathaniel Clyne equalise 11 minutes after the restart. Daniel Sturridge scored the decisive goal 11 minutes from time for the Merseysiders.
The Reds will trying to do the league double over the Saints for the first time since the 2002/03 campaign. Liverpool have won 15 of the 31 all-time Premier League meetings between the sides. Southampton claimed nine victories and there were seven draws.
Southampton have conceded only top-flight 17 goals this season, which is the lowest total in the Premier League.
Liverpool are unbeaten in four straight away Premier League matches and kept a clean sheet in all four. The Reds have gone 379 minutes without conceding a goal away from home stretching back to a Robin Van Persie strike in a 3-0 loss at Manchester United in mid-December.
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