The best way to stop Liverpool’s fearsome attack is by winning the battle for possession.
That is the view of Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino, ahead of this evening’s clash with the Reds, at St Mary’s.
Liverpool are top scorers in this season’s Premier League, with an incredible 70 goals – led by Luis Suárez on 23 and Daniel Sturridge on 18.
But Saints are one of only two teams to have kept them out this term, having earned a 1-0 win at Anfield in September.
They will hope for a repeat today, with Pochettino identifying control of the ball as key.
“We’re fully aware that we need to defend very well,” he said. “We need to win possession, we need to be very focused to actually nullify any chances that they create.
“The way that we plan to do that is just by taking possession from them, by not letting them win possession – to play in their half, to pressure them constantly.
“We need to counter their attacking mindfulness with our own attacking intent, and that just means going all out and keeping possession against them.”
Only Swansea have been better at Saints than keeping possession this season, with Pochettino’s side averaging 58.4 per cent in each game.
The Saints boss doesn’t want to see that number slip today, especially with the danger of world class forward Suárez lurking, and says his team must be “perfect” when they don’t have the ball.
“We need to have possession against Liverpool,” he reiterated.
“We need to try to keep possession and try to not let them create any chances whatsoever, or very few chances.
“It’s clear that we’re going to be facing one of the best strikers not just in England, but in the world.
“Suárez is possibly one of the best strikers in the world, but not only him, there’s other players that Liverpool have, such as (Philippe) Coutinho, (Raheem) Sterling, Sturridge, and other players within the Liverpool side that are very much quality players.
“It’s clear that we need to have a perfect game when we’re playing without the ball in order to not let them create any chances or to have a chance to win.”
Pochettino again rejected the suggestion that Saints don’t have anything left to play for this season, saying that the first target is now regaining the eighth position that they lost last weekend.
“I don’t think the season’s over. I disagree with that assessment,” he said.
“The motivation is always there to play well, to get the three points tomorrow, especially against a very tough team that’s actually a candidate to win the Premier League, a candidate that’s looking to get into the Champions League, and we also have the motivation to recover the position that we lost against West Ham.
“We have that massive motivation inside of us to recover that position.
“Football is passion, it demands motivation, it demands focus, and our focus is always the same.
“What I would say to the fans is, as I’m sure they will, come in full force tomorrow, with full voice, always support the team as they always do, and hopefully we can reward them with a victory.”