We are reaching the business end of the Premier League season. Two teams, Fulham and Huddersfield Town, have already been relegated while at the top Manchester City have just a 1 point lead and the battle for 4th is even more intense as Arsenal hold it by goal difference alone.
This weekend sees several key games in the Premier League. Chelsea face West Ham in a London derby while Arsenal head up to Everton, but the weekend gets rolling with relegation candidate Southampton hosting the title challenging Liverpool on Friday night.
Southampton’s recent form has been strong, picking up 9 points from their last 4 games with their only defeat coming at Old Trafford. They even claimed a surprising win over Tottenham thanks to a late goal from James Ward-Prowse.
Meanwhile, Liverpool’s results have been very good, with 10 points from their last 4 Premier League games and an away win against Bayern Munich in the Champions League to send them through to the quarter-finals. With a title challenge and a Champions League fixture next week Liverpool can ill-afford injuries or a length battle in this one. They will look to wrap up the three points quickly and head home with everyone fit.
So who will win this fixture? To find out we turn to FIFA 19.
Southampton Vs. Liverpool
Southampton’s live form side is a 4-star team with 76 attack, 78 midfield, and 74 defence. They are heavily out-gunned by Liverpool’s 5-star squad with it’s 86 attack, 82 midfield, and 83 defence.
We are setting the AI difficulty to Professional and using 6-minute halves. We have also tinkered with the sliders to make the game a little more realistic. We have lowered injury frequency and severity to 35, increased sprint speed & acceleration to 55, dropped shot and pass error to 45, improved shot and pass speed to 55, and lowered goalkeeper ability to 45. Hopefully this should create some fluidity from the AI and give it the chance to really show what this game can do.
Southampton Formation & Lineup
Southampton’s default formation is a 5-3-2 with a “long ball” offensive style and a “pressure on heavy touch” defensive one. FIFA 19 lines up Angus Gunn in goal with a back three of Jan Bednarek, Jack Stephens, and Jannik Vestergaard. It has Yan Valery at right wing-back and Matt Targett at left wing-back. The midfield three is made up of James Ward-Prowse, Oriol Romeu, and captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. Nathan Redmond plays up front alongside Danny Ings. This is not a legal lineup for the Premier League as Danny Ings is currently on loan from Liverpool, but FIFA 19 doesn't care about that.
Liverpool Formation & Lineup
Liverpool's default formation is the 4-3-3 False 9 with a "balanced" offensive style and a "press after possession loss" defensive one. The lineup FIFA 19 puts out is a strong one with Alisson in goal and a back four of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, and Andrew Robertson. Fabinho sits at the base of the midfield three with captain Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum ahead of him while the front three consists of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino.
With the lineups ready and the settings locked in lets get this simulation underway.
Result: Southampton 0 - 1 Liverpool
It was a low-scoring affair but largely dominated by Liverpool. The more defensive-minded Southampton were a tough nut to crack for Liverpool, who dominated possession and led the way with the most shots and shots on target. Georginio Wijnaldum had a low shot at the near post saved in the first half and then missed a gild-edged chance in the second after being put through in the box by Firmino.
Eventually the deadlock was broken by who else but Mo Salah. A smart through ball from Fabinho split the defence and Salah smashed a first-time shot passed a helpless Gunn. Southampton had trouble creating any clear chances, with their best opportunity coming from a corner but they barely troubled Alisson who had a simple day in the Liverpool goal. While a 1-0 result will not be comfortable for fans, collecting all three points is the important thing and they were able to do that here to once again put the pressure on Manchester City.