Southampton will look to bow out of the Premier League with a win against Liverpool, with Reds fans keeping a close eye on highly-rated target Romeo Lavia.
A long and disappointing season comes to an end for Jurgen Klopp‘s side on Sunday afternoon, with fifth place now confirmed.
Liverpool end their campaign with a trip to the already-relegated Saints, in what is essentially a dead rubber at St Mary’s.
It may not be an afternoon with the drama of recent years, but nevertheless, the Reds will be hoping for a positive end to 2022/23.
Ahead of the match, we spoke to Saints fan and writer Luke Osman (@lukeosman_) to hear about his side’s campaign of woes, Liverpool’s future and much more.
It must have been a demoralising season for Saints – what’s gone so wrong?
It’s been a nightmare from start to finish.
There have been so many problems and they can all really be traced back to the ownership group, Sport Republic, and the decision-making of Rasmus Ankersen.
We didn’t sack Ralph Hasenhuttl quickly enough; failed to recruit a much-needed starting forward in the summer, whilst padding the squad out with untested kids; appointed Nathan Jones, gave him too long; made a mess of the January window and promoted Ruben Selles from his position as an assistant manager to manager, and he’s been dreadful.
So, all of these things have gone wrong…and that’s only a brief summary!
How do you assess the managerial situation?
United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-285024″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
Selles had to go. He’s been as bad as Jones, really, but is just more tolerable with the media and puts himself across in a more conventional fashion.
It sounds like Russell Martin is going to be the Man who comes in and I have mixed feelings about this.
Sport Republic intend to gear the squad towards a more possession-heavy style, which makes sense with the drop down to the Championship, but Martin’s times at both MK Dons and Swansea have featured streaky runs of both excellent and terrible form.
There’s also no track record of taking teams up, which should be the bare minimum expectation next year, so it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.
Which players have shone and struggled the most?
United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-285025″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
Romeo Lavia has been head and shoulders above any of our players. He has been outstanding since his first kick of a ball for us, when he made his Premier League debut against Tottenham on the opening day.
His professionalism, consistency and performance levels have been freakishly good for a 19-year-old in his first senior campaign, especially during such a dismal season for the team.
Carlos Alcaraz deserves a mention too – he’s been really good since joining in January from Racing Club and has been the only player demonstrating some composure in front of goal.
As for the second part of this question, take your pick!
Even the more reliable heads like James Ward-Prowse and Kyle Walker-Peters have underwhelmed this season, but they’ve been far from the worst.
Adam Armstrong has been painfully unimpressive, while the likes of Mohamed Elyounoussi, Ibrahima Diallo and plenty of others have routinely turned in abject performances.
Gavin Bazunu remains a promising goalkeeper, but he’s had a torrid time this season.
The alternative, however, in Alex McCarthy, has proven to be equally poor, if not worse, since he returned to the starting lineup.
Do you think Romeo Lavia would be a good potential signing for Liverpool?
United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-284538″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
I really do. I think Lavia would be a good signing for near enough every club in the World – he is that good.
He has excelled in such difficult circumstances this season and has all the tools to be an elite midfielder within a few seasons if he makes the right move.
Lavia is so intelligent and well-rounded already that I wouldn’t have any concerns about him slotting seamlessly into a club like Liverpool’s midfield.
We will likely only get around £40 million for him this summer because of our relegation, but I do truly believe that anything less than about £70 million is a bargain in today’s day and age.
He’s only 19 and the sky is the limit.
Do you think Saints will bounce back straight away?
It’s so hard to say without knowing what the summer business will look like.
My gut instinct is that we won’t come straight back up because the decision-makers at the club have proven throughout this season that they cannot be trusted – every major call has been wrong.
The expectations should be that we will, at the very least, finish in the top six, but it’s going to be a brutally challenging campaign.
We will be a completely unknown quantity – I’d be as unsurprised to see us win the Championship as I would be to see us finish about 14th.
As for Liverpool, how do you assess their campaign?
Liverpool, UK. 20th May, 2023. Roberto Firmino of Liverpool celebrates scoring the equaliser late in the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. Picture credit should read: Gary Oakley/Sportimage Credit: Sportimage Ltd/Alamy Live News” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-284729″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
Incredibly bizarre! You’ve looked unplayable at times and rather shambolic at others.
I think the inconsistency demonstrated throughout the campaign was bound to hold you back from qualifying for the Champions League, but there have still been positive signs to carry forward to next season.
It goes without saying that this hasn’t been a successful season for Liverpool, as such, but I don’t think there’s any real need to be concerned as long as things are freshened up in the summer.
Do you think the Reds will be ‘back’ next season?
Liverpool, ENGLAND – Sunday, March 5, 2023: Liverpool‘s Cody Gakpo (L) and Darwin Núñez line-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 7-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-280504″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
I think Liverpool will be back in the top four next season, but I think a title race might just be out of reach.
Man City will only get stronger and Man United will be well-equipped to compete again if their takeover does go through.
Liverpool will benefit from the likes of Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez having half a season and a season of Premier League minutes under their belts respectively, but the midfield rebuild has to be executed well.
Looking ahead to Sunday, where are the key battles?
Liverpool, ENGLAND – Saturday, May 20, 2023: Liverpool‘s Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Aston Villa FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-284745″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
I don’t expect us to pose any threat whatsoever to Liverpool, really.
Alcaraz’s runs in behind from deep might give your centre-backs something to consider but it shouldn’t be anything that causes too much of a problem.
We’ve conceded nearly 70 goals this season in the Premier League, so therein lies the weakness that Liverpool can and will exploit.
Our defence is a car crash and our goalkeeper is a hologram – I’m fully expecting Roberto Firmino to sign off in style!
Finally, what’s your prediction?
Leicester, ENGLAND – Monday, May 15, 2023: Liverpool‘s manager Jürgen Klopp celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Leicester City FC and Liverpool FC at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)” width=”600″ height=”400″ class=”lazy lazy-hidden alignnone size-medium wp-image-284442″ srcset=”” sizes=”(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px”/>
It’s the absolute embodiment of a dead rubber on Sunday, but I’ve got no doubt that we will embarrass ourselves with our 26th league defeat of the season.
Liverpool will want to finish the season on a high note and shouldn’t have a problem in doing so.
I will go for Southampton 0-3 Liverpool.