Southampton v Liverpool: Similar styles proving successful, says David Jones
Southampton and Liverpool's styles should make for an absorbing game, says David Jones.
Last Updated: 27/02/14 4:49pm
While Southampton are eyeing a top six finish, Liverpool sit just four points off the summit; just reward for the scintillating football both teams favour which has captured the imagination of so many neutral observers.
Both are led by hugely ambitious and still young men: Brendan Rodgers, the affable Irishman with a ruthless streak who demands his team play with panache; and Mauricio Pochettino, who inspires great dedication from his young team, won over by his passion and intelligence.
Both base their game on unsettling opponents with the speed and ferocity out of possession, winning the ball back high up the pitch and breaking in numbers at lightning speed.
This was best demonstrated by Southampton at Anfield way back in September and they remain the only team to win there; only once since then have Liverpool failed to score.
Both teams are also flush with English talent: six of the two teams' starting XIs last week are available to Roy Hodgson for whom this must be his favourite fixture.
The stats are interesting, too.
While Southampton average slightly more possession - 58% to Liverpool's 53% - Liverpool have slightly more shots on goal - 17 per game compared to the Saints 14. Barely anything in it.
But they both average 24 throw-ins, six corners, Liverpool make one more tackle per game - 22 to 21 - and they've conceded roughly the same amount of goals.
The one major difference is going forward, where Liverpool leave their South Coast rivals - and most of the Premier League - trailing in their wake.
Rodgers side are the league's top scorers with 70 so far: just one short of their total for last season, and already 23 more than in 2011-12 with Kenny Dalglish at the helm.
Staggeringly 46 of those goals have come in the first half of games which is already a Premier League record.
Of course Southampton don't possess two players as devastating as Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, who've scored more goals than the Saints between them: 41 and counting.
Though it's worth remembering that Sturridge cost Liverpool less than Southampton paid for Dani Osvaldo, whose stay at St Mary's was startlingly short.
The SAS are Europe's most dangerous strike partnership this season - only Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema at Real Madrid get close - and worryingly for the rest there could be more to come.
While Sturridge has scored in Liverpool's last eight games, Suarez has hit his longest barren spell of the season.
It's four games since he found the net and, even more worrying for his next opponents, there remains only one Premier League side he hasn't scored against ... Southampton.