Efter att förra helgens match blev uppskjuten är det ett Liverpool som kommer utvilat till hemmamötet med Southampton. Leicester gav oss ett litet halmstrå i kampen om CL, då de förlorade mot Newcastle under fredagen. Återstår att se om vi, till skillnad från de senaste omgångarna, kan göra vårt jobb i den här striden. Allen Gunn(@_gunzy) berättar här om hur våra motståndares säsong varit och redogör för hur vår utlånade spelare kommit in i laget.

1. The season is about to end, how do you rate your team’s performances this season?
We’ve been about as hot and cold as you can be. We were cold to start the season – somehow managed to recover to sit top of the league for a few hours and then fell to bits by Christmas. After beating you guys in January we jumped off a cliff in the league. Since then we’ve looked great in the FA Cup and dreadful in the league, including terrible performances in losses to Newcastle, Aston Villa, Leeds and West Brom. Our best 90-minute performance came in a 1-1 draw to Leicester last Friday where we played 80 minutes of it with 10 men. That was the closest we’ve been to recovering some of our September/October form then we could salvage a decent finish to the season with competitive fixtures — Crystal Palace, Fulham, Leeds and West Ham — left.

2. How do you think your team has developed compared to last season?
That’s a really tough one to answer with how last season played out due to the stoppage from COVID-19. … I think we’ve developed and regressed this season. We’ve certainly played above our potential as cynical as that may sound, which saw us ascend to the top of the Premier League, but we’ve also looked disjointed and void of any confidence on the other side of the spectrum. We maintain our inability to collect points from winning positions — I think we’re joint first or second with regards to points lost from winning positions — and that has halted our progress in both seasons.

3. You signed Minamino on loan earlier this season, how has he performed?
Takumi Minamino has shown some promise, but he’s 26 years old and for a club like Liverpool you need players on the brink of world class level or already at it. I think he scored with maybe his third touch for us and has scored two sensational goals — but aside from that he’s looked lost when in possession, he’s been careless with the ball and struggles to make a pass within close range. We’ve got the likes of Nathan Tella who deserve the minutes ahead of Minamino as he’s in our long term plans – I hope Minamino works out for Liverpool, but at this stage he needs regular first-team football to continue his development.

4. What part of your team do you think needs to improve next season?
We need to solidify our left back position – if that’s Ryan Bertrand then he needs to stop being a brat and give full effort. He’s looked uninterested and we’ve had to use centre backs out wide and they’ve at least given that effort he’s lacked. I don’t think we’re any closer to finding out if Alex McCarthy or Fraser Forster is the number one keeper – another area we need to figure out if we have to dive into the market for competition in that spot. I also think we’re going to need to improve our striking options … I love Danny Ings, but is he looking to make that last big move with injuries piling up this season again? Maybe. Che Adams has shown flashes, but flashes aren’t going to keep us in the league when the teams coming up from the Championship keep getting stronger and stronger as the money gets bigger.

5. Who has been your player of the season?
I think James Ward-Prowse would jump to the mind of almost everyone at Saints. He’s produced eight goals and six assists in the league and has shown he has the ability to play for England. He’s played in every minute of every league game this year and will hopefully keep trending in the direction of former captains at the club. If he can add that dynamic to his game then we may have another Jose Fonte, Steven Davis, etc. on the books. I think the lack of a true leader fails us in critical moments. Still, he’s turning into a great captain alongside his ability in the midfield as a defender and a set-piece specialist.

6. What kind of game do you expect against Liverpool?
A fiery one. I always like it when these two sides meet given the transfer history. We tend to put on a pretty decent performance — even in defeat. You guys are still trying to chase down European football and we’re eyeing at least confidence after a strong defensive performance against Leicester.