Southampton supporters have been significantly more upbeat in the Transfer Tavern in recent times after seeing their side end a run of no win in 12 Premier League games courtesy of a 3-2 success at West Brom last time out.
Mauricio Pellegrino’s men went into their clash at the Hawthorns having failed to win in the league since November, with their return of six points from a possible 36 seeing them slip into the division’s bottom three. However, the Saints got back to winning ways last weekend as goals from Mario Lemina, Jack Stephens, and James Ward-Prowse proved to be enough to get the better of Alan Pardew’s Baggies, who netted through Ahmed Hegazi and Salomon Rondon but were ultimately unable to get the crucial third to salvage a point.
Subsequently, there have been many thrilled Southampton fans in the Tavern in the last few days, several of whom are eagerly anticipating their team’s clash with Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Sunday, as the South Coast outfit go in search of back-to-back league successes for the first time since April last year.
And talk among our resident Saints supporters has been about those players returning to St Mary’s this weekend in the red of Liverpool, with many feeling that their side must exploit centre-back Dejan Lovren if they are to beat the Merseysiders on Sunday.
The 28-year-old spent a season at Southampton back in 2013 and performed particularly well in that time, thus earning him a £20 million move to Anfield to at the time become the club’s most expensive defender ever.
And while there have been some decent performances in the heart of the Reds backline, there have been too many unconvincing ones, and last weekend’s display against Tottenham will surely be in the mind of Saints boss Pellegrino ahead of their meeting on Sunday.
Ultimately, the Croatia international did well alongside Virgil van Dijk against Mauricio Pochettino’s side, but made that error which is seemingly always around the corner, mis-kicking a routine defensive clearance to allow Harry Kane to draw the penalty from goalkeeper Loris Karius.
And that one moment of weakness is something Southampton must be keen to exploit on Sunday, whether it’s Shane Long’s tenacity off the ball or Manolo Gabbiadini’s strength on the ball – the Saints forward players simply must get at him as there is always an error in him.
Sofiane Boufal played down the left-hand-side against West Brom, and with Lovren often the right centre-back, the 24-year-old could also hold the key to Southampton’s success on Sunday.
As has been remarked for many a year now, teams can get at this Liverpool backline. And Lovren’s efforts since moving there back in 2014 are a reason people hold that view – there has been some good stuff, but there has been too much bad as well.
And for all the ex-Southampton stars who will be returning to St Mary’s this weekend, he is the one the Saints must seek to exploit if they are to get a result against Klopp’s men on Sunday.
Southampton fans… what do you think? Let us know!
Historically, the North London derby isn’t an easy game to predict. But if you are willing to take a position on the big rivalry game this Saturday, we have an Premier League outright win treble that will pay out handsomely! In this week’s Accy Show, we’ve also put together a fantastic EFL fourfold, with odds that could see you earn ten times your stake. Check it out and let us know where you’re putting your coins this weekend!