Friday, November 30, 2012

Match Preview: Liverpool vs Southampton

Liverpool will look for just a fourth win of a stuttering Premier League campaign when Southampton makes their return to Anfield for the first time in eight years on Saturday.

The visit of a team in the relegation zone should be an early Christmas gift for Brendan Rodgers and his men, but Southampton have won just as many games this season as Liverpool - who despite playing some decent football at times have found wins hard to come by.

Again Rodgers was happy with the performance of his team at Tottenham in midweek, but again the result did not match that level of performance and it is an open secret that scoring goals continues to stunt any growth in his developing team.

The fact Southampton sit just four points behind Liverpool tells its own story, but with a decent run of fixtures coming up in December though now is the time to start turning things around at Anfield.

Returning midfielder Lucas Leiva could help by freeing up Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen to do more of their work further up the pitch, and offering some help to Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling - who is still seemingly stalling over a new contract.

Former Liverpool youth player Nigel Adkins hopes to enjoy his return to Merseyside and his Saints have started to breathe life into their season with an unbeaten four-match streak including back-to-back wins lifting them to within a point of leaving the drop-zone.

But for a goalkeeping error from Paulo Gazzaniga against Norwich, Southampton would be travelling north as high as 15th in the table but they have improved since the start of the season and will aim to keep the home crowd frustrated early on.

Midfielder Lucas Leiva returns to Liverpool's match-day squad to face Southampton at Anfield after a three-month injury absence.

The Brazil international has finally recovered from a thigh injury, while Joe Cole has overcome a hamstring problem which forced him out of the midweek defeat at Tottenham.

Defender Andre Wisdom, on the bench at White Hart Lane after a knee injury, could come back into contention for a starting place.

Under-fire goalkeeper Paulo Gazzaniga looks set to start for Southampton again when they travel to Liverpool.

The 20-year-old Argentinian has come under increasing scrutiny following a number of recent high-profile mistakes, including the one that saw Norwich grab an equalizer in midweek.

Danny Fox could return from a knee complaint, while Frazer Richardson and Richard Chaplow are closing in on a return.

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