Saints At Liverpool The Preview
Friday, 31st Jan 2020 09:37
We are reaching for the sky but only getting the stars on Saturday, sadly for us the stars in question will be wearing the red shirts of Liverpool.
A Liverpool fan talking to me this week spoke of how the rest of the League hates Liverpool, he said that it is almost expected, Man Utd were hated beyond belief when they ruled the roost and now so are Liverpool.
He said that with every Liverpool win another 50 indonesians or Japanese switched allegiances and this was the core of why the hatred of Liverpool is hated, not because of those fans who go week in week out and support their team and are respectful of the opposition, but of those far flung supporters in Tokyo, Jakarta and Slough who never go but are all over social media bragging.
He has a point, although he did say that he took solace that the two teams that hated Liverpool the most Manchester United 34 and Everton 30, now collectively have less points between them than Liverpool now have and in truth that probably highlights the gulf between the Anfield club and the rest of the League, indeed if you add Chelsea in 4th place points tally to Arsenal in 10th's, then they only have 70 identical to Liverpool's.
That highlights how everything about this game screams Liverpool win, they have won every Premier League game this season bar one draw, they are unbeaten in over a year in the League, they haven't been beaten at Anfield in nearly three years, they have Lennon, McCartney, Harrison & Starr, you name it there is virtually zero that suggests a Saints draw let alone a win, yet the one statistic that does give us hope is that when they beat West Ham on Wednesday the only 100% cast iron fact is that they were now one game nearer their next defeat.
That might sound a little pessimistic, but let's be realistic here !
But after saying all of this you never know, it might just happen, the odds say it won't, they are stacked against us, especially when you consider our injury problems, but sometimes adversity brings out a spirit that carries the day and we know our manager and his team have spirit.
So I do not expect to be talking about a Saints victory on here, but there is a chance of it happening and that is enough for this game, it has to be.
Ralph Hasenhuttl will have to make changes for this game, but I don't expect many, his two problem positions for this match are the right back spot where Cedric is injured and indeed may not even be a Saints player anymore by the time the game starts, as may be the case for Kevin Danso who played there last Saturday against Spurs in the Cup, and in midfield where Stuart Armstrong looks set to miss the game through injury.
So what team will Ralph put out, does he attack Liverpool or does he set out as he has done previously to try and keep the game tight and build on that.
At right back he has indicated that Kyle Walker Peters will not be thrown straight in, however that may be just a ruse, he may have little other choice, KWP will be ring rusty in that he has not played since December 11th when he played 90 minutes in the Champions League against Bayern Munich and he hasn't played in the Premier League since August, but he is fit and fresh and that may be something we can use to our advantage.
But if KWP is not Ralph's man for Saturday then it will probably have to be JWP instead and that would cause problems in the midfield in plugging Armstrong's gap.
Personally would be tempted to go for the Spurs Loanee and move JWP to the right of midfield bringing in Oriol Romeu in the centre.
Up front who partners Danny Ings ? Long or Adams or does he perhaps play Obafemi, but indeed he could also go one up top.
So this is not an easy line up to predict and Ralph is throwing out smokescreens so who knows.
But we do have a team with guts and spirit and we can hopefully fare better than we have on our last two visits where we lacked both those qualities and were woeful.
Perhaps Jurgen Klopp has helped us with his moaning about fixture pile ups, maybe that will have a negative affect on his team, after all if you tell a player he is playing two many games and is tired then he will start to mentally think that.
Liverpool are winning games but there is a feeling that they are doing so without playing well, that the pressure on them is winning games and the more they win the more that sits on their shoulders.
Aside from a 4-0 win at Leicester on Boxing Day they have struggled a little in some games, 2-0 or 2-1 wins are their par scores and we have to try and stay in the game and perhaps nick something at the end.
The longer the game goes onand they don't score the more our belief will start to soar and the pressure will mount on them, not to win the League, that is almost beyond doubt, the pressure here is to keep winning and become a team of immortals, the invincibles and this is what we have to use.
I think that Ralph will start with Obafemi, to harass their back four with his pace, the game will suit us, our weakness of late is getting caught on the break and I feel we will have little chance to be so far forward to let them do that, but we can use this to our advantage and as at Chelsea and Leicester if we can frustrate them in our final third we can catch them in theirs.
I can't with any honesty predict a Saints win even a Saints draw, all I can hope is that we leave the stadium at 5pm with our pride intact and the knowledge that with this game out of the way the rest are now winnable, but we go to football for that once in a season game where against the odds the team gets a result and maybe just maybe this could be one of those days.
Photo: Action Images
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