Southampton vs Liverpool – Premier League preview and team news

Southampton can move back up to third place in the Premier League if they can see off Liverpool, who can move to within just a point of the Saints should they claim victory.

The hosts slipped out of the top four following Arsenal’s win on Saturday, so will be determined to win at home in the league for the first time since New Year’s Day, having fired frustrating blanks against Swansea City and West Ham United in their previous two outings at the St. Mary’s Stadium.

This would be a good time for Graziano Pelle to end his goal drought in the Premier League, with has stretched to eight matches. His strength will give the Liverpool defence some problems, as will the immense pace of Eljero Elia and Sadio Mane, who will exploit the space should the visiting wing-backs be caught too far forward.

Much was made of Mario Balotelli taking the penalty which gave Liverpool victory in the first leg of their Europa League tie with Besiktas on Thursday, but the fact remains that he scored to continue a mini-revival which saw him claim the winner in a key game against Tottenham and then assist Adam Lallana’s winner at Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.

Much will also be made of the reception that Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren will receive on the first returns to the South coast since leaving under a cloud last summer. Lallana has been in impressive form in recent weeks and served Southampton well, but supporters remain bitter over the manner of his exit. This represents another intriguing plot point to what promises to be a great game.

Matt Targett is back for Southampton, who are boosted by the return of both Morgan Schneiderlin and Shane Long from injury.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is still absent along with Lucas Leiva, but Raheem Sterling should return to the starting XI after coming off the bench against Besiktas.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Southampton v Liverpool

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