Liverpool and Southampton supporters are eagerly anticipating the meeting between the two sides in the Premier League this weekend, with both heading into the clash off the back of contrasting recent results.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds will head into the encounter against the Saints on Saturday having won all six of their games in the 2018/19 season so far, the most recent of which a mightily impressive 3-2 success over Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
Whereas Mark Hughes’ Saints will make the trip to Anfield with just one league win to their name so far this season, which came back against Crystal Palace on September 1, while they will also have to bounce back after throwing away a two-goal lead to only end up drawing 2-2 with Brighton on Monday night.
Nonetheless, it appears that both sides are likely to improve as the campaign goes on given their reasonably active transfer windows, what with Liverpool bringing in the likes of Naby Keita, Fabinho, and Xherdan Shaqiri, while Southampton lured the likes of Danny Ings, Stuart Armstrong, and Mohamed Elyounoussi to the South Coast.
And it’s the additions of messrs Shaqiri and Elyounoussi which are of particular interest, so let’s take a look at how the two compare…
Switzerland international Shaqiri enjoyed his best season to date at Stoke City last time round, but it wasn’t enough to inspire the Potters to Premier League safety.
The winger bagged eight goals and laid on seven assists in 36 league appearances for the Potters last term as their ten-year stint in the top-flight came to a disappointing end, thus prompting much interest in Shaqiri’s services, not least because of a lowly £13 million release clause in his contract.
And it was Klopp’s Liverpool who acted quickest and most efficiently to bring the 26-year-old to Anfield during the summer in a bid to bolster the forward ranks, and such was the influence Shaqiri had at Stoke last season, he is sure to be a huge asset to manager Klopp this time round.
Yes, the Swiss star has yet to start a game for the Reds this season, but in juggling the Premier League, Champions League, and indeed the domestic cup competitions, £16.2 million-rated Shaqiri (as per Transfermarkt) will give Klopp an option he has rarely had during his time at Anfield, and what an option he could prove to be.
TT Verdict: A-
Southampton were desperately short in the attacking ranks last season in netting just 37 goals in their 38 Premier League games, with the likes of Nathan Redmond and Sofiane Boufal, to name but a few, failing to deliver the goods on a consistent enough basis.
Thus, manager Hughes was prompted into luring Norway international Elyounoussi to St Mary’s for a reported £16 million, what with the winger impressing greatly while at Swiss side Basel in the two years prior to his move to the South Coast.
As such, much was expected of the 24-year-old given how blunt the Saints were for much of last season, but he has yet to hit the heights in failing to net or indeed lay on an assist in his four appearances for the club.
Yes, adapting to the Premier League is sure to take the winger some time, but with early indications suggesting that Southampton will again be embroiled in a relegation scrap this season, Hughes needs Elyounoussi to hit the ground running sooner rather than later.
TT Verdict: B+
Clearly, both Liverpool and Southampton needed attacking reinforcements but for vastly different reasons – Liverpool to bolster their squad, Southampton to significantly boost their first team.
Thus, it perhaps wasn’t overly surprising that the Saints paid slightly more for Basel’s Elyounoussi during the summer, what with the 24-year-old impressing greatly for the Swiss club in years gone by, but one can’t help but feel that they missed a trick failing to land Shaqiri.
The Switzerland international would have cost slightly less than Elyounoussi but significantly he has many years of Premier League experience, and indeed pedigree of producing the goods, to call upon, thus suggesting that the Liverpool ace was indeed the man Hughes should’ve signed for Southampton this summer.
Liverpool and Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!