The atmosphere at Anfield on Sunday will be something to behold as Liverpool play their first home league game under Jurgen Klopp, but Southampton will be intent on spoiling the party.
There was a sell-out crowd for the Europa League game against Rubin Kazan on Thursday, but it proved to be a frustrating evening as the Reds could only draw 1-1 against a side that played with 10 men. It came after a very respectable point at Tottenham, where they started very much on the front foot but did not have a goal to show for it, and eventually found themselves playing on the counter-attack as Simon Mignolet was forced to make a couple of fine saves.
While the arrival of Klopp has undoubtedly caused a huge buzz across the red half of Merseyside, it is tough to expect him to turn things around overnight, as the squad he has been left has plenty of limitations. To make matters worse, he has a number of injuries to cope with, and so it is hard make a judgement until those on the sidelines return. This will be a very tricky encounter, so Philippe Coutinho must regain his form somewhat, while Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana have an incentive to do well against their former club.
Southampton are a team in form, so are well capable of taking at least a point here. Their recent upturn in form has lifted them to eighth in the Premier League table and above their opponents on goal difference, but it could have been even better had they managed to hold on to win against Leicester City last time out. Instead, they lost their defensive shape in stoppage time and so became the latest side to fall victim to a Foxes fightback.
The hosts have been known to concede from set-pieces, so centre-backs Jose Fonte and Virgil van Dijk will both be confident of adding to their respective accounts, having scored against Leicester. Graziano Pelle will be part of fascinating battle with Martin Skrtel, one which could decide the outcome of the game. The Italian was quiet as he made his Saints debut in this fixture 14 months ago, but he is now among the top-flights most influential strikers.
Christian Benteke may start in attack for Liverpool ahead of Divock Origi after making his return from injury late on against Rubin Kazan. Roberto Firmino is also back available, but Daniel Sturridge is doubtful.
The visitors should have Maarten Stekelenburg back in goal after a back problem, but Jay Rodriguez is likely to miss out. Fraser Forster is a long-term absentee.
Last Meeting: The opening day of last season saw these two play out a tightly contested encounter, and Southampton came away feeling hard done by after a 2-1 defeat. A glorious Jordan Henderson pass set up Raheem Sterling to slot Liverpool ahead, only for Nathaniel Clyne to equalise with a rasping shot into the roof of the net. The winner for Liverpool came against the run of play, with Daniel Sturridge turning the ball beyond Fraser Forster.
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