Monday night will see Southampton host the champions Liverpool in their first match of the year as both sides look to recapture their early season form.
The festive period brought very little gifts for Monday's hosts as they find themselves in 9th going into the new year after a strong start to proceedings. The Saints have failed to win in their last four, only scoring once in the process.
It's been a similar dismal showing over Christmas for the red half of Merseyside (by their high standards) as recent dropped points has invited pressure from bitter rivals Manchester United at the summit. Liverpool will hope to take all three points as Jurgen Klopp's men look to maintain a cushion in first place.
Where to Watch Southampton vs Liverpool
When Is Kick Off? Monday 4 January
What Time Is Kick Off? 20:00 (GMT)
Where Is It Played? St Mary's Stadium
TV Channel? Sky Sports
Both teams will miss their usual strong presence at the back as Jannik Vestergaard will miss Liverpool's visit with a knee injury that has sidelined the centre-back for the last two fixtures. Nathan Redmond is also unlikely to feature.
As per the unprecedented nature of this season, Ralph Hassenhuttl has been cleared to return to the touchline after being forced to miss the West Ham draw with a positive COVID test.
Liverpool's injury crisis means the champions will be without some key men, with Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Djik all sidelined. In their absence, Klopp will likely call on the services of Nathaniel Phillips. It is doubtful as to whether Diogo Jota and Naby Keita will be involved, however, Thiago returning to the squad to face Newcastle provided a much-needed boost to the Reds.
Southampton: McCarthy; Walker-Peters, Bednarek, Stephens, Bertrand; Armstrong, Ward-Prowse, Romeo, Walcott; Ings, Adams
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Jones, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Southampton's form has tailed off since their defeat to Manchester City in early December. The Saints have found it difficult to get back to winning ways since, drawing two games on the bounce. Vestergaard's absence at the back has been a huge loss for Hassenhuttl. The Austrian manager has lost a huge defensive presence who has proven to be a threat in both boxes.
Liverpool have also dropped four points in their last two, failing to find a cutting edge against both West Brom and Newcastle respectively. The champions' recent displays have further increased the hope of other clubs hoping to mount a pursuit for the Premier League title this season, with Manchester United increasingly looking like viable challengers to their crown.
Southampton 0-0 West Ham (26/12)
Fulham 0-0 Southampton (26/12)
Southampton 0-1 Manchester City (19/12)
Arsenal 1-1 Southampton (16/12)
Southampton 3-0 Sheffield United (13/12)
Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool (30/12)
Liverpool 1-1 West Brom (27/12)
Crystal Palace 0-7 Liverpool (19/12)
Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham (16/12)
Fulham 1-1 Liverpool (13/12)
The talent in Southampton's squad has proven they are more than capable of ruffling a few feathers in terms of the Premier League's top positions.
Liverpool sit top of the league but their recent displays prove they are not untouchable. However, with teams behind them finding their form, their trip to the south coast is a must-win game.
Both teams like to play football at a fast pace, with a high press and chances created, and you'd favour Liverpool with their quality in attack were this one to turn into a shootout. However recent games from both sides show that they are lacking a clinical edge...and Liverpool could suffer again.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Liverpool
Source : 90min