Since Liverpool last played a game it feels as though there’s been a monumental shift across the world, with America electing a new President and everyone (understandably) losing their heads. Has there ever been such a crazy international break when it comes to global events? It certainly feels as though it’s been one hell of a long gap since we last saw the Reds kick a ball in anger, and I for one am delighted it’s over.
As usual, though, international breaks aren’t without their own problems and it looks as though we’ve been hit with the curse of the pointless injury. Southampton have had their own players missing on international duty, however, so it may just be a question of who can click back into gear the most successfully. I’ll confess I think this is the toughest fixture we’ve got until City on New Year’s Eve, but what info do you need to bear in mind when it comes to placing a bet?
There are two major pieces of international break news that Jürgen Klopp won’t be too happy about. Adam Lallana, who has been in brilliant form so far this season, is likely to miss the match against the side he used to captain because of an injury he picked up playing in a pointless friendly for England. The manager confirmed in his press conference on Thursday that the midfielder had had a scan and that it ‘would be close’ but hopefully not too serious.
Then late on Thursday evening a photo of Philippe Coutinho at a hospital in Liverpool began to do the rounds, with the Brazilian apparently there for an MRI scan. Worrying, yet the truth is that he was unlikely to start against Southampton considering he played 84 minutes against Argentina last Friday and then 86 minutes against Peru on Wednesday. It’s far from ideal, but thankfully we’ve got genuine strength in depth for the first time in a long time (something I talk about in my latest ACHP blog).
Given the injury news, therefore, I would be very surprised if Daniel Sturridge didn’t come in to replace Coutinho, with Firmino dropping deeper. I also imagine that Gini Wijnaldum will replace Adam Lallana in the midfield, perhaps allowing Emre Can to support Jordan Henderson in the marshalling of the defensive backline. Here’s the starting XI I think we’ll see at St. Mary’s: Karius – Clyne – Matip – Lovren – Milner – Henderson – Can – Wijnaldum – Mané – Firmino – Sturridge.
It looks as though Southampton will have to make a couple of changes from the team that lost 2-1 away to Hull before the international break. Both Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Fraser Forster have recovered after picking up slight knocks, but James Ward-Prowse, Cedric Soares, Ryan Bertrand and Shane Long are all struggling for fitness ahead of the game.
Dusan Tadic is also a slight doubt, having broken his nose whilst on international duty with Serbia. Southampton manager Claude Puel is hopeful that he’ll be able to start the game and I’d expect him to make the bench at the very least. Jürgen Klopp was singing the praises of Nathan Redmond at his press conference and the player Saints signed to replace Sadio Mané has been in good form so far this season.
The Reds were in a rich vein of form before the international break. We won four on the bounce after the 0-0 draw with Manchester United at Anfield, scoring fourteen and conceding five. Interestingly we’ve had a mixed bag of results immediately after an international break under Klopp, beating Man City 4-1 at The Etihad back November of 2015 before drawing 1-1 with Spurs in March of this year. The first international break of this season was followed by a 4-1 thrashing of Leicester at Anfield, whilst the second came before that bore draw with United. Will we be the pre-international break Liverpool at the weekend, or the one that lacks rhythm and consistency?
Southampton are having an interesting year themselves. On the one hand they’ve only won one of their last five league games, drawing with Manchester City and Leicester, losing to Chelsea and Hull and only picking up three points against Burnley. On the other hand their loss to Chelsea was their only defeat in their previous ten home games. Prior to their win over us last season they had lost three and drawn one against Liverpool at St. Mary’s. So which Southampton team are we going to end up facing, the one that sees us as a bogey team or the one who knows how to get a result at home?
The more games Liverpool win the more important the next one becomes. Consequently each match feels like a potential banana skin. That said, this really does feel like a game that could result in our second loss of the season. So what bets should you be looking to make?
Both Teams To Score
It feels more and more likely that the Reds are going to score over 100 goals this season, meaning it’s difficult to see any game that we won’t score in. Saints, meanwhile, have only kept one clean sheet in their last five league games. Liverpool can’t throw stones, of course, given that we’ve only kept one clean sheet all season. It’s around 4/6 for Both Teams To Score, which aren’t the greatest odds but then you won’t get anything much longer on something that’s pretty close to being a sure thing.
As always, the best way to lengthen your odds is to add something else into the mix and when it comes to BTTS bets that includes the team that you think will win. If you reckon that Liverpool Will Win and Both Teams Will Score that becomes 3/1, which is not a bad bet at all. If you agree with me that the Reds could lose this game then you might be more tempted by Saints Winning and BTTS coming in at 5/1. Finally, there’s every chance that both teams could settle for honours even, so BTTS in a Score Draw is around 7/2.
Opting For A Goal Scorer
If there are definitely going to be goals the main question is: Who will score them? For Southampton there’s a rather obvious option. Charlie Austin has already bagged five goals and is on penalty taking duties, so there’s no real question that he’s worth looking at. He’s 2/1 to score anytime, so if you want to push the odds out a little then I’d consider Austin as First Goal Scorer at 6/1. If it’s an anytime option that you’d like to plump for then I’d avoid Austin and go for Nathan Redmond who’s 5/2 to Score Anytime.
When it comes to Liverpool there are goals all over the pitch. Coutinho is unlikely to start so I’d perhaps give him a miss, but I would not rule out the possibility that Daniel Sturridge could get himself on the scoresheet in the Premier League at long last. He opened the scoring for England against Scotland in their World Cup qualifying match last weekend and has also impressed for the Reds when he’s come on as a substitute. It feels like this is his moment to remind everyone of why he’s considered to be one of the best natural finishers in the country. Sturridge is 7/4 to Score Anytime or 5/1 as FGS. He rarely scores just a single goal in a game, so you might want to consider the 6/1 for Sturridge to Score 2 or More Goals.
Gini Wijnaldum netted eleven times for Newcastle last season. He looked to be letting the fact that he hadn’t yet scored for us during this campaign affect him, so Jürgen Klopp will have been relieved to see him put the ball in the back of the net against Watford before the international break. Wijnaldum is 14/1 to Open The Scoring against Saints, which may be too long for some people to seriously consider. The 6/1 you can find for the Dutchman to Score Anytime looks a little long to me considering he’ll definitely start, so I’m going to put a couple of quid on that.
I’m going to risk the wrath of the football gods making this a bore draw by saying that you should definitely stick £10 on Both Teams To Score. I’m also going to put my neck on the line and tell you that Sturridge Anytime at 7/4 is worth a punt.