Get set for Friday night lights at St Mary’s and the visit of Liverpool by checking out our Match Pack, in association with SportPesa...
Saints vs Liverpool
St Mary’s Stadium
Friday 5th April, 8pm BST
Live on Sky Sports
Referee: Paul Tierney
Assistants: Stuart Burt, Darren Cann
Fourth official: Graham Scott
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
It would appear that the stars are aligning for a big night at both ends of the Premier League table on Friday night.
Consecutive wins have thrust Saints five clear of the relegation zone while Liverpool could enter the weekend back on top, albeit having played a game more than rivals Man City.
The wins over Arsenal and Spurs at St Mary’s remain the highlights of Ralph Hasenhüttl’s reign so far and were he to mastermind a third high-profile upset and dent the visitors’ title chances, there were would be many a sore head in Southampton come Saturday morning.
Both sides have won three of their last four in the league and while Liverpool have dominated this fixture in the past few seasons, the momentum behind Saints has not been this strong for a long time. Anything is possible.
Southampton: Danny Ings is ineligible as part of his loan agreement from Liverpool while Hasenhüttl is hopeful that Shane Long and Jannik Vestergaard will recover fully from the respective injuries that ruled them out of last week's win over Brighton.
Liverpool: The visitors’ primary injury concerns were resolved by Jurgen Klopp yesterday. Virgil Van Dijk sustained a knock during last week’s 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur, but Klopp expects the centre-back to be available to face Saints on Friday.
The German reported no further fresh injury issues ahead of the game at St Mary’s. With Porto to follow in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, his squad will be managed carefully on the south coast.
Southampton’s last five:
Brighton (a) W 1-0 (Højbjerg)
Tottenham (h) W 2-1 (Valery, Ward-Prowse)
Man Utd (a) L 2-3 (Valery, Ward-Prowse)
Fulham (h) W 2-0 (Romeu, Ward-Prowse)
Arsenal (a) L 0-2
Liverpool’s last five:
Tottenham (h) W 2-1
Fulham (a) W 2-1
Bayern Munich (a) W 3-1 (UEFA Champions League)
Burnley (h) W 4-2
Everton (a) D 0-0
Ralph Hasenhüttl: "It would be dangerous to think we are already safe and I can guarantee you that we don’t. We know how tough it was so far to get the right points at the right moment and there are still a lot of points to get so we must stay focused.
"The results in midweek were good for us but it’s still a long way to go and the earlier we get to 40 points the better.
"The win against Tottenham was a win nobody expected and the win against Brighton was a six-pointer and very important. At the moment, the team feels that the way we play is a successful way and we can create problems for every opponent."
Jurgen Klopp: "Ralph worked a while in Germany and of course you can see some similarities because of that. Most of us love good organisation, pressing, counter-pressing and quick transitions but that is nothing new.
"We did our coaching badges together years ago; I knew him as a player and as a manager he has done it the hard way. Third division, he was successful. Second division, he was successful and then to Leipzig where he was very successful. It is a proper career, the first job doesn’t have to be AC Milan, he has shown that if you are ambitious then a lot of things can happen.
"I am looking forward to seeing him but it’s not between me and him, two teams will be out there playing for the win."
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg has epitomised plenty of what has been good about Saints over the past few months. Installed as club captain, the midfielder has gone from strength to strength under Hasenhüttl, his influence growing every game.
The Dane is enjoying his best goal-scoring season in the top-flight – Saturday’s critical winner at Brighton his fourth league strike of the season – and with Oriol Romeu and James Ward-Prowse either side, is the force that drives his side forward.
Ward-Prowse missed out on becoming the first Saints player since Jay Rodriguez in 2014 to score in four consecutive Premier League matches last week but did cover more ground than any other player on the pitch for a remarkable 11th game in a row.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson were among the star performers for the Reds crucial win over Spurs at Anfield, and will be key once more as Liverpool look to them to provide the quality from wide areas.
The away side also desperately need Salah to end his recent drought. He's gone eight games without scoring – his longest barren run for the club. In his absence, former Saint Sadio Mané has excelled; netting 11 goals in his past 12 games.
Previous five meetings:
September 2018: Liverpool 3-0 Southampton
February 2018: Southampton 0-2 Liverpool
November 2017: Liverpool 3-0 Southampton
May 2017: Liverpool 0-0 Southampton
January 2017: Liverpool 0-1 Southampton (Long)
DID YOU KNOW?
- Southampton have won five of their 10 Premier League games against Liverpool at St Mary’s – they’ve only beaten Everton more often at the ground in the competition (6).
- Southampton are looking to win three consecutive Premier League games for the first time since May 2016 (a run of four).
- Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp won the only previous meeting between him and Southampton’s Ralph Hasenhüttl, with Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund beating VfR Aalen 4-1 in a German Cup match in October 2012.
- This will be Southampton’s first top-flight home game on a Friday since December 1991 (1-1 vs Notts County) with all five of their such games in the Premier League coming away from home (W1 D2 L2).