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Saints have big task against Reds says Case
Jimmy Case believes Saints will have their hands full this weekend against a Liverpool team that are hitting their best form of the season.
Brendan Rodgers’ resurgent side head to St Mary’s on the back of a three-game winning streak in which they have scored 12 times.
Both clubs have a lot at stake on Saturday, with the Reds attempting to force their way into a European spot, while Saints continue to battle against relegation.
Liverpool’s thrilling 3-2 victory against Spurs last Sunday has further energised the Anfield club, pushing them up to sixth in the table – a season high.
Liverpool and Saints legend Case believes Rodgers’ men will be given a stern test of their credentials at St Mary’s, but he also thinks Mauricio Pochettino’s side are unfortunate to be facing the Merseyside club now.
“I have watched Southampton quite a bit and they have done ever so well so far,” said the 58-year-old, who made 272 appearances for Saints, from 1985 to 1991.
“With Liverpool, though, they have probably caught them at the wrong time.
“I’m not saying Liverpool are definitely going to beat them, but they have picked up a lot lately and there is a lot of confidence there.
“It will probably be a cracking game. I hope it is. But, at the moment, I just think Liverpool are coming into it a little bit stronger.
“It will still be a difficult game for Liverpool, though. “Southampton at home is always a difficult one, and the crowd there are fantastic.”
The Reds’ sizzling attack is spearheaded by the division’s top scorer, Luis Suárez, who has 22 league goals to his name this season, and 29 across all competitions.
While Liverpool were arguably too reliant on him earlier in the campaign, they are now a much more efficient unit according to Case, who won four league titles and three European Cups with the club.
“It used to be that, if you stopped Suárez, Liverpool wouldn’t necessarily function,” he said. “He did hold us from August through to January. But it’s different now.
“You can see the players are getting used to the system and the ideas of the manager, and the goal threat is not just coming from Suárez now, it’s coming from other areas too.
“There is a confidence now. Some players have really improved of late, such as Jordan Henderson and Stewart Downing, who is playing a lot better than what he was.
“Going into the game against Tottenham, there was a confidence we could play just as well as them. We had been building up to that result.”
Case has marvelled at the form of Uruguayan forward Suárez this season and believes the 26-year-old deserves to win the coveted Footballer of the Year trophy.
“If I was casting my vote, I would go with him,” he said. “Every other team in the country would have him in their side. With him, you have got everything.”
Case added: “His form is there to be seen by everybody. His attitude to the game and towards the team effort is relentless. He wants to play every minute of every game.
“He’s in your face all the time, he’s a goalscorer, and he even provides as well. His overall work rate is incredible.
“You would think he would have run out of steam by now, because he was leading the line on his own up until January, when (Daniel) Sturridge came in.”
Gareth Bale’s scintillating form makes him the other leading candidate to be named as the Premier League’s player of the season, but, if Case had to choose between the former Saints star and Suárez, he insists he would edge towards the Liverpool man.
“I would prefer Luis Suárez in my side to Gareth Bale,” he said. “Both have contributed a lot of goals, but I just think Luis does that little bit more in terms of effort and all round willingness up front. But you would like both of them.”