Martin Keown has warned that Nathan Redmond could thrive up against Liverpool’s high-line on Saturday afternoon.
The tactic has been a feature of the Reds first three games of the season, one which Manchester City, Norwich and Chelsea have all been able to exploit.
Keown says pacey winger Redmond, who has gone up a level under Ralph Hassenhuttl, will relish the opportunity to make fruitful runs in-behind.
“The trouble is it [playing a high line] can leave you vulnerable at the back — Norwich created lots of chances and Teemu Pukki scored — with space for opponents to run into,” Keown wrote in his Mail column.
That will be the job of Nathan Redmond today. Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl will want him to make runs from deep and wide left and for his playmaker, for example James Ward-Prowse or whoever wins the ball, to play the ball into the space behind the back four. Liverpool need to be aware of that.
This is where keeper Adrian — or Andy Lonergan — will be needed too. Whoever starts will have to stay alert and play high like his defenders, in case he needs to come rushing out to clear danger.
The Arsenal legend expects the Reds to face a real test, particularly after being forced to play 120 minutes against Chelsea in midweek.
If we fail to pick-up three points, he is confident title rivals Manchester City will pull clear by beating Spurs in the evening.
“Liverpool will not have got back from their Super Cup trip until Thursday afternoon,” he pointed out. “Then, 48 hours later, they will play a Saints side who will be licking their wounds after a 3-0 loss to Burnley.
“The squad will be tired, but they have to go to St Mary’s to win.
“Only winning will do. Manchester City will happily exploit any slip-ups.”
With Charlie Nicholas predicting that the Reds will be held, Keown is not alone in fearing we might struggle.
But there’s still reason to be confident – this team has consistently risen to and overcome significant challenges.