Weblog: The football punter

Free-scoring Reds to raid Southampton once again

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Liverpool have made regular raids on Southampton during the last few transfer windows and the marauding Reds are unlikely to leave empty-handed after their trip to the south coast.

Virgil van Dijk was the latest Saint to make the switch to Anfield, following in the footsteps of Adam Lallana, Sadio Mane, Dejan Lovren and (via Arsenal) Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

The £75m centre-back must be delighted to be facing Southampton's forward line rather than a Liverpool front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and the prolific Mo Salah, and the Reds can extend their hosts' miserable run at St Mary's.

Failure to beat Liverpool would make it just three wins in 20 home matches for Southampton and they remain in serious trouble even after last weekend's 3-2 win at fellow strugglers West Brom.

They did well to turn things around at The Hawthorns after going behind in the fourth minute but that unexpected goalfest meant the Saints have kept only one clean sheet in their last 17 Premier League matches.

Liverpool have scored 32 goals in 13 league matches on the road this season and bookmakers offer a shade under 5-1 about Southampton shutting out the leading away scorers in the top flight.

There were plenty of jibes when Liverpool followed up a thrilling 4-3 win over leaders Manchester City with a 1-0 defeat at lowly Swansea but their flaky reputation isn't supported by the facts this season.

That blip at the Liberty, where they dominated the shot count 21-3, was only their third league defeat of the campaign and the other two came away to the Citizens and Tottenham.

Their attacking firepower and pace on the counter have been too much for most teams outside the top six. They claimed maximum points from tricky trips to Burnley and Leicester, beat Huddersfield and Stoke 3-0 on their travels, and swatted aside Bournemouth 4-0, West Ham 4-1 and Brighton 5-1.

November's reverse fixture ended in a comfortable 3-0 win for Liverpool, with Salah scoring a first-half brace. The Egyptian scored another double in the 2-2 draw with Tottenham last weekend and odds-against quotes about him finding the net at St Mary's make plenty of appeal.

The Liverpool win looks the most solid selection, however. Burnley, Leicester, Crystal Palace and Watford are among the teams to have won at Southampton this term and it's hard to have great faith in their defensive unit holding firm.


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Match in Focus

20:00 TODAY BT2

Man City v Hoffenheim

Home WinDrawAway Win
Key stats
  • Hoffenheim have never won a Champions League game
Expert verdict
Manchester City need just a point to gain a potentially advantageous Champions Leauge knockout stage tie and they should top the group with ease. Hoffenheim must win in order to qualify for the Europa League but the German club do not have the steel to hold off the English champions.