Liverpool will go into the match against Southampton confident they can secure three points to keep themselves near the top of the table.
However, there is a worrying stat which will give Brendan Rodgers cause for concern and it relates to the most basic of necessities any side needs to win a football match, possession.
Southampton have a significantly higher average of possession this season than Liverpool. The Saints have enjoyed 59% of the ball this season from all matches compared to the 48% of Liverpool.
That’s a significant difference and anyone who believed that Southampton could be passed off the pitch at Anfield can forget about it.
What’s most intriguing about that stat relates back to the second half of Liverpool’s match against Swansea.
Swansea dominated that game with 58% of the ball across 90 minutes and Liverpool struggled at times, especially in the second half when Swansea equalised through Michu before pushing for a winner.
So there is a good chance Liverpool could quickly get frustrated against Southampton which is something that Rodgers needs to prepare for.
There are plenty of different ways they can prevent the Saints from having the ball for a higher percentage of the time with the most obvious using it more effectively themselves.
Liverpool are a side that play some superb pass and move football so it’s surprising they are only ninth in the Premier League when it comes to passing success rates.
Liverpool are finding their target with passes 81.6% of the time and that figure needs to be substantially closer to 90% for the match against the Saints if they are going to dominate.
The other obvious way Liverpool can break up possession is to use their players to do just that.
Lucas and Jordan Henderson have both proven to be very successful holding players in the midfield this season, but there is only so much work they can do in terms of throwing in tackles to win the ball back.
Rodgers’ message should be simple; pass effectively, pass simply and starve Southampton of possession.
image: © eamoncurry