Leaders Liverpool in for a tough Saints test

Thiago’s presence will certainly add spark to Liverpool’s game at St Mary’s on Monday. —AFP

LIVERPOOL failed to score for the first time in 22 Premier League matches when they were held to a scoreless draw at Newcastle in midweek.

Back-to-back draws against WBA and Newcastle have seen Liverpool’s lead atop the table reduced to three points, with rivals and second-placed Manchester United boasting a game in hand.

If Man Utd win against Aston Villa (early this morning), then Man Utd will level with Liverpool in points with the Reds ahead only on goal difference.

Joel Matip’s injury is the latest blow for Liverpool as the Cameroon international is facing around three weeks on the sidelines due to a groin injury sustained against WBA.

With Klopp having lost Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez to potentially season-ending knee injuries, Matip has formed a valuable partnership with the versatile Fabinho at the back.

Up front, the Reds’ front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firminho and Sadio Mane have been extremely subdued and not been at their rampaging best.

The Premier League’s leading scorer Salah looks shorn of his shooting boots as he has missed glaring chances in his side’s last two fixtures.

Though they bossed the possession in both their recent fixtures, Liverpool were once again held by a side who sat deep and looked to play on the break.

And the frustration seems to be building up for Klopp, with Matip’s injury a huge blow to the team.

On the plus side, the long-awaited return of star midfielder Thiago Alcantara has brought plenty of cheer.

Thiago came off the bench in his first appearance since October in Liverpool’s draw at Newcastle and looks set to play a bigger part at St Mary’s on Monday.

Ralph Hasenhuttl’s Southampton are win-less in four league games and have not scored in their past three games so they will be eager to find their goalscoring touch again, especially with main striker Danny Ings back in the line-up.

Tottenham welcome free-scoring Leeds to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London and will be looking to get back to winning ways.

Jose Mourinho’s side had a much-needed break in midweek after their league fixture against Fulham was postponed because of an outbreak of Covid-19 at the Cottagers.

Tottenham have not won in the league since Dec 6 when they beat Arsenal 2-0, having drawn with Crystal Palace and Wolves and losing to both Leicester and Liverpool.

Leeds are on a high after whipping WBA 5-0 in midweek and Marcelo Bielsa will once again bring his all-out attack mindset and go for goals.

Mourinho loves opposing teams to attack his side and this looks set to play into Mourinho’s hands as he looks to get back to winning ways.

New WBA boss Sam Allardyce has a huge job on his hands as he tries to steer his side from the relegation battle and after being dismantled 5-0 at home by Leeds on Wednesday, he needs to instil confidence in his players.

They did get a credible draw at Anfield last Sunday, albeit fortunately, but anything less than a result against the Gunners will see the pressure rise at the Hawthorns.

Mikel Arteta’s Gunners are slowly moving up the table after two wins on the trot against Chelsea and Brighton. They will be looking to make it three wins in a row and with the youngsters playing well and confidence up again, this looks like full points for Arteta’s side.

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