Can Liverpool cope without Philippe Coutinho?
Can Liverpool cope without Philippe Coutinho?Reuters

Liverpool welcome Southampton to Anfield on Saturday in a Barclays Premier League fixture. The Reds will be hoping to extend their lead at the top of the league after a disappointing draw at Swansea earlier this week.

Southampton have had a sobering start to the new season after heavy investment in the team during the summer increased expectations at St.Marys. The Saints have earned five points from four games and are currently placed eleventh.

Liverpool's hopes rest squarely on the shoulders of in-form striker Daniel Sturridge. The England international, despite not being fully fit, has scored in every single game for his club this season. However, Philippe Coutinho, who usually plays behind Sturridge in the number ten role, is out with a shoulder injury he picked up in the game against Swansea. As soon as the Brazilian was substituted, Liverpool looked out of sorts, with Swansea dominating possession and Liverpool unable to fight back. Brendan Rodgers underlined how important Coutinho is to the balance of the team.

"It's unfortunate because he was a really pivotal player for us in the game," Rodgers told Liverpool's official website. "When he went, we lost that connection between our midfield and the front line; it disrupted our balance a bit."

"These things happen in football," he added. "Hopefully he'll recover quickly and come back to us in good shape."

With Luis Suarez still suspended, it will be interesting to see how Rodgers adapts to the loss of Coutinho.

Southampton enter the game on the back of two poor results. The Siants drew 0-0 with West Ham in their last game and lost 1-0 to Norwich the game before. A game against league leaders Liverpool may be unwelcome with the side looking to bounce back but manager Mauricio Pochettino will be encouraged by their 3-1 victory against Saturday's opponents in March this year. Southampton are the last team to have beaten Liverpool in the Premier League.

The Saints have dolled out large transfer fees to acquire highly rated players in the transfer window. Centre-back Dejan Lovren has arrived from Lyon for £9 million, defensive midfielder Victor Wanyama cost £13m illion pounds and striker Pablo Osvaldo was also bought for £13 million pounds.

So far, the investment is yet to produce any tangible return, but Saints fans will be hoping that the three new players find their place in the team sooner.

Team News

Liverpool: Along with Coutinho, the Reds are missing a whole host of players. Daniel Agger is out after an unusual training incident. Full-back Aly Cissokho and Glen Johson are recovering from ankle injuries, Luiz Suarez serves the last game of his suspension and Sebastian Coates is out with a long-term ACL injury.

Winger Victor Moses is expected to play again after his impressive debut against Swansea.

Southampton: Luke Shaw has recovered from an injury sustained in the game against West Ham. Danny Fox is out with ankle problems while Tadanari Lee will also be missing.

Where to Watch

Kick-off is at 7:30 pm IST (Saturday, September 21) and live coverage is available on ESPN and ESPN HD.