A hectic week reaches its climax as we travel to one of the most historic stages in English football to face Liverpool tomorrow (3pm).
Having taken four points from back-to-back home matches against Newcastle and Norwich, Saints will go to Anfield in high spirits and unbeaten since 5th November.
The Reds will represent a stern test, though they have won just one of their last nine matches in all competitions. However, Sunday’s 2-1 loss at Spurs was their first league defeat since 23rd September.
Liverpool go into this weekend sitting 12th in the Barclays Premier League standings on 16 points – which is just four more than Southampton have.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have been inconsistent at Anfield so far this season, winning two, drawing three and losing two of their seven home fixtures.
Saints, meanwhile, picked up their first away points of the season when we travelled to QPR a fortnight ago and recorded a 3-1 victory.
Saints could select an unchanged starting XI for the fifth consecutive game after manager Nigel Adkins reported no new injuries in his pre-match media briefing.
Luke Shaw came off with five minutes remaining of Wednesday’s 1-1 draw with Norwich City due to cramp, but should be fine for the trip to Anfield.
Gastón Ramírez completed his first full game in Saints colours in that match, and will be looking forward to meeting up with Uruguay teammate Luis Suarez tomorrow.
Frazer Richardson (thigh), Richard Chaplow and Danny Fox (both knee) are all moving closer to fitness but may not recover in time for the trip to Merseyside.
Lucas Leiva is back in the Liverpool squad after a three-month injury absence, while Joe Cole should return after being ruled out of the midweek defeat at Spurs because of a hamstring issue.
Defender Andre Wisdom was on the bench at White Hart Lane having recovered from a knee problem, and could be restored to the starting line-up tomorrow.
Landmarks & Connections
Tomorrow’s game will be a special occasion for a few members of Saints’ travelling party.
Manager Adkins started his playing days in the Liverpool academy, before the Birkenhead-born goalkeeper switched to Tranmere Rovers to begin his professional career.
Striker Rickie Lambert also started out with the Reds before being released as a teenager, but he remains a supporter of the club.
Morgan Schneiderlin told the media yesterday that he followed Liverpool as a youngster growing up in France and cannot wait to test himself against his playing idol, Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard.
Team Captain Adam Lallana is one goal away from the 50th of his career, while Morgan Schneiderlin is one short of his 150th league appearance for Saints. Jason Puncheon has 49 league starts for the Club so could reach 50 tomorrow.
It’s almost eight years since we last faced Liverpool for a 2-0 home win secured courtesy of goals from David Prutton and Peter Crouch in January 2005.
Our previous visit to Anfield ended in a narrow defeat, with Florent Sinama Pongolle’s goal just before the break enough to give the Reds a 1-0 win in December 2004.
We ran out 2-1 winners at Liverpool the previous season, when Brett Ormerod and Michael Svensson scored in a 2-1 win on 13th December 2003.
Competitively, we have faced Liverpool 91 times. 25 of those have gone our way, 21 have ended in draws and 45 resulted in defeat.
Tomorrow’s game will be refereed by Michael Oliver, who will be assisted by Simon Long and Charles Breakspear. Lee Mason is the fourth official.
Unfortunately our allocation for the trip to Anfield sold out a fortnight ago, so please do not travel to Liverpool without a ticket.
As with every Saints away game, the best way to travel up to Liverpool next week is with our official away match travel partner, Coliseum Coaches. To book your place, call them on 02380 472377 or go to coliseumcoaches.co.uk and travel in style.
If you plan to drive, head north from Southampton via the M3, A34, M40, M42 and M6. Exit at junction 21a onto the M62, and follow that until you reach the end of the motorway. Continue onto the A5058 and turn left after three miles when you reach Utting Avenue, with Anfield around a mile down that road. The stadium’s postcode is L4 0TH.
There is a secure car park within a few minutes’ walk from the ground just inside Stanley Park, with spaces priced at £10. There is also a limited amount of on-street parking.
The nearest train station to the stadium is Kirkdale, which is around a mile from Anfield. Alternatively, fans can head to Sandhills, from where you can catch a frequent return shuttle-bus service known as Soccerbus.
If travelling via Sandhills, ask for a ticket to ‘Anfield’ and – for an add-on of just £1 – you’ll get a return trip on the Soccerbus. You can also pay as you board the bus – it’s just £1.50 for a single or return ticket.
The service runs for two hours before each Liverpool match up to 15 minutes before kick off and for 50 minutes after the final whistle.
You can listen to live commentary courtesy of BBC Solent on Saints Player, where you can keep up to date with all the stats and scores from around the country.
Nigel Adkins and Morgan Schneiderlin spoke to Saints Player ahead of the game, and you can watch their interviews – plus their full press conferences – now.