Liverpool v Tottenham
Sunday April 3, 2:30am
With the international break out of the way we return to the business end of the season in the Premier League with plenty of questions still to be answered. For Liverpool, the top-four is an outside chance as they currently trail Man City by seven points with a game in hand while Spurs have five points to find with Leicester at the top of the league as they search for their first top division title since 1960/61.
Prior to the break, Liverpool looked like making it four wins on the bounce when they led 2-0 at half-time at St. Mary’s but Saints mounted a remarkable comeback to win 3-2 thanks largely to the introduction of Saido Mane at half-time as a substitute.
Their form at Anfield, however, remains fairly good as Manchester United are the only side to win there in their last seven games as they’ve beaten Manchester City and Leicester in that time, whilst also holding Arsenal to a draw. Indeed, since Klopp took over, Liverpool have an excellent record against the top teams as they’ve also beaten Man City and Chelsea away under him.
They picked up a goalless draw at White Hart Lane in the German’s first game, while they also got revenge for the league defeat against United by beating them 2-0 in the Europa League at Anfield.
Spurs bounced back from a defeat at Upton Park and being held to a draw against 10-man Arsenal in the North London Derby with convincing wins over Villa and Bournemouth, meaning that they’ve now won eight of their last 10.
Their away record this term is W8-D5-L2 which is second only to Leicester and the defeat against West Ham was their first on the road since the opening day of the season at Old Trafford.
Pochettino’s side have only conceded more than once away in a 2-2 draw at Swansea and their defence has been comfortably the best in the division both at home and away. However, when travelling to top-half sides their record is W2-D2-L2 with their wins coming over Southampton when they were struggling down in 12th and City a few weeks ago, one of four defeats the Citizens have suffered in their last six games.
With the exception of that 2-1 win at the Etihad, these games have tended to be tight affairs with five seeing fewer than three goals.
Liverpool have an excellent recent record against Spurs, winning five of six unbeaten meetings since 2013/14 and the last time Spurs won at Anfield was back in 2010/11.
Liverpool have welcomed back Phillipe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge in recent weeks and with that duo operating along with the impressive Roberto Firmino, the Merseyside club look a very dangerous team, scoring at least twice in their last five games.
This, together with Klopp’s record against the top teams, particularly at home, means that we’re siding with Liverpool to dent Spurs’ title challenge here.
Leicester v Southampton
Sunday April 3, 10:30pm
The latest chapter in the remarkable Leicester story sees them host Southampton following the international break as they look to protect what was a five point lead over the rest of the division heading into this gameweek. Prior to the break, the Foxes won three games in a row 1-0 against Watford, Newcastle and Palace.
Southampton, meanwhile, mounted a remarkable second-half comeback to win 3-2 at home to Liverpool to add to a 2-1 win at the Britannia prior to that. As a result, they moved up to 7th which was where they finished last term and they’ll look to climb further up the table in the coming weeks.
Having managed just three clean sheets in their opening 18 games, Leicester have since kept nine in their last 13 as they’ve become a much more efficient side in contrast to the flamboyance they showed early on in the campaign. They’ve only lost three games all season, twice against Arsenal and also at Anfield.
That sole defeat at the King Power Stadium was back in September last year as their overall home record is W9-D5-L1, better than anyone else in the division. Their record when hosting sides between fourth and tenth is W3-D2-L0 as they’ve beaten Liverpool, Stoke and Chelsea and drew against both Manchester clubs.
The Foxes kept a clean sheet in the last three of these games and there were also fewer than three goals in three.
Southampton are very much a team dependent on current form as their wins and losses tend to come in clumps. They’ve suffered back-to-back defeats four times this season and have only failed to follow a win with another one twice.
Their away record this term is W5-D5-L5 and their road games have tended to be low-scoring affairs with 10 seeing fewer than three goals and eight with fewer than two.
When travelling to top-five sides since the start of last term they’re W1-D2-L5 and their performances in these games are probably what cost them the top-four place they occupied for a large part of last season.
The sole victory came over Man United, whom they’ve also beaten this season, and these games have also tended to be low-scoring as six had fewer than three strikes and half had fewer than two.
While Southampton have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last five, Leicester have kept a clean sheet in four of their last five and six of their last seven at home and remain in excellent form.
We can’t help but feel that the Foxes are still being underestimated at 2.2 as the biggest price a top-four side has been when hosting Southampton since the start of last season was 1.81 which is what Arsenal were at the start of February having failed to win any of their three games prior to that fixture.
Leicester, conversely, have won their last three and as a result we’re siding with the league leaders in this one and wouldn’t put anyone off backing them to continue their excellent defensive form and win without conceding at 3.5.