Liverpool hoping for another victory over Southampton

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Liverpool look to close the gap on top-four rivals Southampton as the pair meet at the St. Mary's on Sunday.

The Reds currently sit seventh in the Premier League, three places and four points behind the south coast outfit however a win would certainly make things interesting for the final Champions League place.

Brendan Rodgers' men have had a busy period in recent weeks however have proved well under pressure and lost just one of their last 16 games in all competitions.

Southampton have well over-exceeded this term and Ronald Koeman has done a fabulous job since taking charge last August. After the sale of key players such as Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren (both to Liverpool) and Luke Shaw, many tipped the Saints for relegation come May. However it has been quiet the opposite and instead they occupy the final Champions League spot up for grabs.

The two side's last met on the first day of the Premier League season and goals from Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge gave Liverpool a narrow 2-1 win.

Sterling Back In

Sterling was absent for the Reds' victories against Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace however made a welcomed substitute appearance on Thursday night during his side's 1-0 win against Besiktas in the Europa League.

With Sturridge back in the starting line-up it's likely that Sterling will revert back to a deeper position, either just behind the striker or playing out-wide.

Now Rodgers employs tactics of wing-back, the former is much more likely. The England international is capable of playing as a wing-back but he is wasted and cannot fully commit himself to attacks as much as he would.

Philippe Coutinho has been in a poor run of form over the last few weeks but he should be suited to a more open game. On Thursday night, the Brazilian was smothered by Besiktas who frustrated Liverpool for 90 minutes.

Southampton will be looking to attack throughout the game and it will leave space for Coutinho to expose and thread through balls across the park.

Sturridge To Go It Alone

Based on his performances, Sturridge has performed better when he has Mario Balotelli playing alongside him.

Against Palace and Besiktas the two had a good understanding for one-another and linked up well and in his last two games, Balotelli has netted twice and provided one assist.

However, it seems that Rodgers prefers to bring on the former Inter Milan man when things aren't going to plan. The Northern Irishman seems adamant that Sturridge can perform up-top as a lone striker with the support of players in behind and if things don't work out then Balotelli can come off the bench and offer his support. 

Ibe The Man Of The Hour

What a past few weeks Jordan Ibe has had. 

After coming back early from his loan spell at Derby County, the 19-year-old has well and truly proved his worth for Liverpool and repaid the faith Rodgers has put in him.

Against Besiktas, he was the man of the match and was one of only few players in a Red shirt who had constant success. Ibe was a menace on the right-wing and his smart work late in the game won his side a penalty that was calmly slotted home by Balotelli.

In his rich vein of form, there seems no reason why his manager would leave him out of the side. Ibe has plenty of confidence and momentum behind him and should give Ryan Bertrand plenty to think about.

Alberto Moreno too done well on Thursday night and made several threatening runs down the left. His end product could improve but he should have a fantastic battle against Nathaniel Clyne when both attacking and defending.

Henderson To Take Charge

Jordan Henderson desperately wanted to take the penalty against Besiktas but eventually done the right thing allowing Balotelli to do so. 

Selfishness is in human nature and eventually the Wearside native done what was best for the team and he will have learned a lot from that.

Morgan Schneiderlin is set to return for Southampton, likewise Victor Wanyama and Henderson will have to be at his absolute best to keep those two quiet in the centre-of-midfield.

As will Joe Allen, who is beginning to find form in a Red shirt. He was excellent against Crystal Palace and swept play up well against Besiktas. With Gerrard and Lucas soon to return from injury, the Welshman will be looking to continue his good efforts and win a place in Rodgers' side through merit rather than default.

Usual Defence

Emre Can, Martin Skrte, Mamadou Sakho.

That is the formula that has brought solidarity to Liverpool's early season defensive problem as well as bringing confidence to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

Can has been particularly impressive on the right-hand side of the three centre-backs and has come into his own. The German is so calm on the ball and rarely picks a bad pass as well as completing a large proportion of his tackles.

Skrtel looks much more settled and the form of Can and Sakho has given the Slovakian less responsibility and looks more composed when defending.

Predicted Line-up

Mignolet; Can, Skrtel, Skaho; Ibe, Allen, Henderson, Moreno; Sterling, Coutinho; Sturridge

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