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PL Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton

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  • Southampton has not scored a PL goal vs. Liverpool since 2016, a run of 4 games
  • Liverpool has never won its first 7 matches in a season in club history
  • Southampton has not won vs. any of last season’s PL top 6 teams in 24 games

Liverpool finally showed a weakness. Liverpool was finally human.

Until they weren’t.

When the Reds toppled Paris Saint-Germain in the 91st minute on Tuesday, it struck fear into the hearts of the rest of Europe. Can anyone actually stop this whirring machine? Sure, you might score some goals against Liverpool, but can you score enough?

[ WATCH LIVE: Liverpool vs. Southampton on NBCSports.com ]

Southampton visits Anfield hoping to avoid becoming Liverpool’s next victim Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com. The Saints have been a mixed bag so far this season, but coughing up a 2-0 lead at home to Brighton last weekend was a less than ideal way to send the team off to Anfield. Not only that, but they’ll have to match the Reds without top scorer Danny Ings, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

That thrusts strike partner Shane Long into a solo role, or forces Mark Hughes to bring on the misfiring Manolo Gabbiadini to pair with Long, although the Italian is struggling with a hamstring injury himself and will require a late fitness test to make the squad. Either way, it appears a daunting task for the visitors to Merseyside.

For the Reds, Roberto Firmino is fully healthy, having recovered completely from his eye injury suffered last weekend against Tottenham. Adam LallanaDivock Origi, and Dominic Solanke are all out injured but otherwise the squad is nearly complete. Only Dejan Lovren remains on the sidelines, but even the Croatian is nearing a return from his pelvic injury.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on playing at home: “Are we ready to create the best atmosphere of all games? That would be cool. We need to show Southampton how difficult it is to come to Anfield.”

Southampton manager Mark Hughes on playing Liverpool: “It’s a game that is going to test us because the team we are facing looks on top of their form in terms of individuals and the collective functioning really well.”

Prediction

Southampton has looked promising this season in spurts, but this isn’t the game where they put it all together. Liverpool is a nearly unstoppable force at home, and there’s no reason that should change. The only concerning bit of information for Liverpool heading into this match is last season’s record following Champions League games, when they won just once while losing once and drawing four, but this year has proven Liverpool has a new gear. The Reds will win 3-1, with things shaky for some time down the stretch until a late insurance goal puts the game away.

Could Joe Hart return to the England squad?

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Gareth Southgate is planning a trip to Turf Moor this Saturday, and that could mean big things for 31-year-old goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The former Manchester City starter and longtime England #1 has fallen out of the setup after a dip in form that led to not only his fall down the England depth chart, but also his exit from the Etihad. After losing his starting spot at City in 2016, a loan move to Italian club Torino was the beginning of the end for Hart’s international job.

Or was it?

Jordan Pickford, who was one of the best goalkeepers at the World Cup this summer, is firmly entrenched in the starting spot. However, there are murky waters surrounding the backup job, and that’s where Hart could find himself back in the mix.

England boss Gareth Southgate has insisted publicly that the position is open for the taking. Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy is expected to be the man Southgate calls upon during the October international break, but that’s nowhere near set in stone. Burnely’s Nick Pope, who served as backup at the World Cup without seeing game action, is out injured for a significant amount of time with a dislocated shoulder. Jack Butland‘s stock has dropped after Stoke City was relegated, and now the Potters toil in the bottom third of the Championship standings. Fulham shot-stopper Marcus Bettinelli was called up in early September, but he did not feature, and the 26-year-old hardly even has the confidence of his own club manager.

So, could Hart earn himself a spot in the rotation? With Pope injured, the 31-year-old has stepped in at Burnley and performed at a decent level despite just a single point for the club through the first five Premier League matches. With few concrete options, it’s possible a familiar face could be back in the England squad.

Top Premier League storylines for Week 6

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Six Premier League teams faced midweek European contests, with different degrees of success and effort expended by their stars.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

Spurs and Man City lost, while Manchester United and Arsenal posted easy wins. Chelsea didn’t have its best finishing boots but won while resting Eden Hazard, and Liverpool won despite a rough night for its best player in Mohamed Salah.

How will that affect the sides when they face decided underdogs this weekend in England and Wales?

Slumping Spurs head south to stop the rot
Brighton and Hove Albion vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC STREAM ]

Three-straight losses for Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino; Not something we’ve ready too often, or at all. But the Tottenham boss admits his slumping team could use a break that isn’t coming, especially in the case of Harry Kane. Brighton hasn’t taken it easy on anyone this season, but can be broken down and is coming off a pair of 2-2 ties. Goals at the Amex?

Chelsea returns from Greece for London Derby
West Ham United vs. Chelsea— 8:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN STREAM ]

Eden Hazard and David Luiz were able to rest while Alvaro Morata and Chelsea produced plenty of chances but only one goal at PAOK on Thursday. West Ham had some marvelous moments in attack in getting Manuel Pellegrini a much needed win against Everton last week, and won’t be thinking of anything other than a result when the Blues come back to England for Sunday morning’s kickoff.

Everton hopes to take advantage of weary Arsenal
Arsenal vs. Everton— 11 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

Meanwhile, many of Arsenal’s stars rested or played subs roles in Thursday’s defeat of Vorskla Poltava. And the Gunners were home for that tilt, where they’ll remain for the visit of Marco Silva‘s Toffees. Everton gets Richarlison back from his red card suspension, and hopes that will help a season that went from “unbeaten in four” to “one win in five” with last week’s loss to West Ham.

Liverpool aims to stay perfect vs. rising Southampton
Liverpool vs. Southampton — 10 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN STREAM ]

The 5-0 Reds overcame a blown 2-0 lead against Paris Saint-Germain at midweek, and now will face a Saints side which will be missing its top striker (Danny Ings is ineligible due to Liverpool being his parent club). It’s a match that screams trap game, if only because it’s that hard to imagine Saints getting much from Anfield.

Portuguese bosses match wits at Old Trafford
Manchester United vs. Wolves — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Gold STREAM ]

Jose Mourinho’s men are playing well, with captain Paul Pogba almost certainly the best player on the pitch in a pair of recent wins over Young Boys and Watford. Enter Wolverhampton Wanderers, who are playing some attractive football under Mourinho’s countryman Nuno Espirito Santo. This one has the earmarks of a beauty, assuming Mourinho continues to play attack-minded football. Is that too much of an assumption, given the busy week for his Red Devils?

Southampton 2-2 Brighton: Set-pieces bring Seagulls level

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Southampton nearly earned its second win of the season, but visiting Brighton & Hove Albion erased a two-goal deficit to earn a point as the teams shared the points at St. Mary’s on Monday. Piere-Emil Hojbjerg’s howitzer put Southampton in front past the half-hour mark, and Danny Ings buried a penalty to double the home lead. However, Shane Duffy headed home to put Brighton on the board just moments after Southampton’s second, and Glenn Murray scored from the spot as regulation expired to draw back level.

The teams went back and forth in the opening 20 minutes, but only one shot on target was produced. Southampton had the best early opportunity on 21 minutes, as a corner swung into the danger area and somehow stayed out of the back of the net. Danny Ings’ effort was the most egregious, fired on goal from point-blank range but blocked before it even reached the goalkeeper.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The Saints came close again in the 27th minute as Mohamed Elyounoussi headed a Nathan Redmond cross just wide to the right after jumping in front of his defender.

Southampton would finally make good on its attacking presence in the 35th minute and go in front at home. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg picked up the ball 10 yards outside the top-right corner of the penalty area and blasted a shot that knuckled through the legs of Brighton’s Yves Bissouma and past Matthew Ryan for the game’s first goal.

[ STREAM: Watch every PL match live ]

The home side was buoyed by the lead, pressuring the Brighton defense for more and earning nine shots (three on target) to Brighton’s two (none on target) by halftime. After the break, the visitors seemed more intent to go forward. Anthony Knockaert forced a big save from Southampton goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, and the visitors their first corner in the 52nd minute, although it came to nothing.

Despite the Seagulls’ bright start to the second half, Southampton nearly doubled its lead as a brilliant long ball over the top from Shane Duffy sprung Shane Long, but the Saints striker put his effort wide with Ryan charging out of his net to contest. The Saints would eventually go up 2-0 after Ings drove into the penalty area and was cut down by Gaetan Bong, a clear penalty. Ings stepped up and buried the spot-kick to put Southampton through.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Brighton wasn’t phased, and they struck right back on 66 minutes. It came off a set-piece, with a free-kick delivered from the right of the box and Shane Duffy headed it home. The Seagulls pressed hard for an equalizer and put Southampton under pressure through the final 15 minutes. Knockaert had a shot from close range deflected past the post, while Bong sent in a cross from the left that was cleared just before reaching substitute Jurgen Locadia. Brighton nearly had an equalizer as Locadia got his head to a corner near the end of regulation that was saved well by McCarthy, but the Seagulls would get their second on the ensuing corner.

As the ball swung in, James Ward-Prowse shoved down Duffy, earning the spot-kick. Glenn Murray sent his effort straight down the middle past McCarthy for the equalizer in the first minute of added time.

Southampton nearly grabbed a winner on a free-kick down the other end, but Ryan produced a fabulous diving save to keep out Ryan Bertrand‘s curling effort. The final whistle confirmed Brighton’s second two-goal comeback in two weeks, having done the same last weekend against Fulham. With the points shared, both sides move to five points on the season through five matches, leaving both teams at their current places of 13th and 14th behind a trio of teams on six.

Watch Live: Southampton v. Brighton

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Southampton host Brighton & Hove Albion at St Mary’s Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in a big South Coast derby.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

Saints are aiming for back-to-back wins in the Premier League and they are level with visitors Brighton on four points from their opening four games of the season. This should be a tight, tense clash between Mark Hughes‘ Saints and Chris Hughton‘s Seagulls.

In team news Saints have the same starting lineup from their win against Crystal Palace before the break.

Brighton bring in Yves Bissouma to the starting lineup.

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