March 16, 2013
Full set for Saints
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.4||2.0|
|Goals against *||1.3||1.4|
|Last 5 home||D-L-D-W-W||W-D-D-D-W|
|Last 5 away||D-L-D-W-D||W-W-D-W-L|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Southampton | Liverpool|
Southampton have a clean bill of health heading into their Barclays Premier League clash with Liverpool.
Danny Fox and Steven Davis were the only absentees in last weekend's 0-0 draw at Norwich but could feature for Mauricio Pochettino's side at St Mary's.
Vegard Forren played for the under-21s again on Monday so is a step closer to fitness.
Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho has similar quality to Ronaldinho and Lionel Messi, according to Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino.
The 20-year-old Brazilian has enjoyed a fine start to life at Anfield, having joined from Inter Milan during the January transfer window.
It was a time in which Coutinho was heavily linked with a move to Southampton, whose manager Pochettino knows the midfielder well after coaching him during a loan spell at Espanyol last season.
The Saints boss was coy when asked whether he had tried to lure Coutinho to the south coast, but more forthcoming when asked about the quality of the player in line to start at St Mary's.
"What has happened in the past, happened in the past,'' Pochettino said. "We can't change it or do anything about it. Actually, talking about it is not going to do anything positive either.
"Philippe is a Brazilian player and, as it happens with most Brazilians, he has a special magic in his feet.
"Aside from the magic that he has, he also has an amazing work rate and that makes us doubt whether he fits the mould of a typical Brazilian player or a European one because his work ethic is outstanding.
"What is important about him is he is a good lad, a good kid - a great, humble person.
"I do think Coutinho has that same quality that Ronaldinho and Messi have, but he has much to prove yet.
"What is really clear to me is that Coutinho is a really responsible player - really dedicated and responsible to his own players.''
Liverpool will make a late assessment on the fitness of goalkeeper Jose Reina before they travel.
The Spain international missed last weekend's win over Tottenham with a calf injury and manager Brendan Rodgers will decide whether he will be recalled after training.
Midfielder Joe Allen has a shoulder problem but it will not prevent him being included in the squad.
Rodgers believes that commitment and belief in his method is now starting to pay dividends as the side recorded a third successive league victory for the first time since May 2011 with Sunday's win over third-placed Tottenham.
"What we are seeing is the characteristics of the team, which is control and domination, but also a real steel to the defensive unit and everyone working for the cause and that is very important at the moment,'' said Rodgers.
"We are trying to form new ways of working and it is not easy for players, especially if you have worked a certain way with a certain manager and you bring in another manager who is a different man who works tactically different.
"There were some teething problems but staying calm was important for us.
"It is never easy. You want players to get on the ball and play but on the other side of that is to show your steel.
"In order to co-ordinate that it takes a bit of time but thankfully everyone has been really positive.
"You have to give credit to the players because they have continually believed and seen the development.
"You look at the quality of some of them but aligned to that is their courage.
"I inherited some very good players here but this season was a transition in many ways because of finances and there were management issues which I had to undertake coming in which were not just on the football operation.
"But the players have coped really well and slowly we have made a few additions and we hope we can do likewise in the summer.
"If we can do that over the course of the summer as each window goes by you start to see more of your type (of player), but that's taking nothing away from the players because they've been outstanding.''
Liverpool head to struggling Southampton looking to maintain their winning run and try to close the seven-point gap on the top four but Rodgers stressed they were focused only on the next match.
"We can't get too far ahead of ourselves,'' he added.
"The second part of the season has been outstanding. We had a tough game physically and mentally against Tottenham and this week has been about getting refocused and re-energised for Southampton.''