Liverpool took on Southampton at St Mary’s stadium on Sunday afternoon. Both sides are at different ends of the Premier League spectrum and with earlier results already known, this was a crucial clash for both of their respective campaigns.
Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum were recalled to the Liverpool starting XI as well as Matip to partner Van Dijk in the centre back position despite Lovren having a decent game against Spurs apart from one calamitous error which led to Kane’s first penalty. One change for Southampton with Boufal dropping to the bench for Hojbjerg after their defeat to West Brom last time out.
Southampton kicked off in the bottom 3 with Huddersfield and Newcastle both winning against the odds, at home, earlier in the day. It was a big game for both sides with Southampton dropping into the bottom 3 and for Liverpool, a chance to open the gap on Arsenal and close the gap on Man Utd whilst keeping Spurs at arm’s length.Embed from Getty Images
Van Dijk was hearing a sea of boos each and every time he picked up the ball. Even Lovren, who was warming up on the side lines, was getting an earful from the Southampton support!
The reds needed no more than 6 minutes to break the deadlock, a great forward ball from Oxlade-Chamberlain to try and play Salah in behind, Hoedt missed his chance for a clearance in a very Liverpool-like fashion and Salah, with great vision, squared the ball to Firmino who slotted past the Southampton goal keeper. 4 passes, 7 touches and Liverpool went from their own goal keeper to the back of Southampton’s net in seconds.
There was a great response from Southampton after they fell behind. Keeping a lot of the possession and trying to break Liverpool down in the wider areas. Karius was forced into 3 big saves. Hojbjerg with the best chance but Karius closed out the angle brilliantly and 2 further crosses with 2 big headers, 1 of which tested Karius who tipped it over the bar. Karius was showing he should be the Liverpool number 1 at that moment.Embed from Getty Images
Southampton with all the pressure and winning the majority of midfield battles but right before half time Liverpool broke though again with a fantastic goal. Matip with the ball played forward into Salah’s feet who quickly turned and slipped the ball into Firmino who scooped the ball back through to Salah with a fantastic semi-back heel and Salah finished brilliantly! A very well worked goal with slick telepathic passing to rip through Southampton’s defence to pretty much end the contest. It was, however; against the run of play for the last 20 minutes with Liverpool not playing fluently when they had the ball. Firmino and Salah the stars of the show at half time, both assisting each other’s goals and Salah with his 22nd goal of the Premier League season.
10 minutes into the second half but no real shift in the dynamic of the game, Southampton made changes and brought the explosive attacking Boufal on for the ill stricken Lemina who seemed to be struggling out there. Liverpool then made changes too, bringing Oxlade-Chamberlain off for Milner to try and sure up the midfield.
Another change for Southampton as the game was beginning to fizzle out and get away from the home side. Long was on for Ward-Prowse but had little effect on the game.
Only a couple of chances here and there for both sides but the last 15 minutes was gearing up to be a cracker. Southampton were throwing men forward and Liverpool leaving Salah high to try and counter attack. Liverpool broke away a couple of times but failed to make chances pay and extend their lead.Embed from Getty Images
Liverpool looked the more likely team to score and extend their lead as they began to control possession in the final 15 minutes and Southampton with some last-ditched defending managed to keep the score down to 0-2. Liverpool making further changes and bringing off Firmino and Salah for Lallana and Lovren before the final whistle. All in all, Southampton failed to test Liverpool in the second half and were largely poor throughout.
Liverpool as they keep the gap between them and Spurs to 2 points, gain 3 points on Man Utd and also push ahead of Arsenal by a further 3 points!
Huddersfield, Newcastle and the rest of the relegation candidates are also deemed winners as Southampton slump to another defeat!
Again, Mo Salah’s class shone through in a fairly lacklustre Southampton performance. 2 great bits of play for both Liverpool goals, Firmino was also exemplary in the build up to the second goal.Embed from Getty Images
Liverpool themselves were great at seeing out a good first half performance with a very well organised second half display. Klopp again, for a second week in a row, making tactful substitutions to see the game out nicely.
Southampton again showing exactly why they are almost propping up the league table as they find themselves in 18th now and don’t seem to be fighting to stay up or playing for the manager either. Pellegrino may be the manager who finally inherits a team which has lost the majority of its talent having been a selling club for a few years now. Looks like Southampton are a dagger-less team without Charlie Austin upfront and lack the creativity to damage teams, even at home.
It is going to take some doing to turn their fortunes around!
THE PLAYER RATINGS:
Karius – 8
Trent – 7
Matip – 6
Van Dijk – 8
Robertson – 7
Can – 6.5
Wijnaldum – 7
Ox – 6
Mane – 6.5
Salah – 8.5
Firmino – 8.5
60’ Milner (Ox) – 6
79’ Lallana (Firmino) – 6
89’ Lovren (Salah) – N/A
McCarthy – 6
Cedric – 5
Stephens – 5
Hoedt – 4.5
Bertrand – 6
Romeu – 5.5
Lemina – 5.5
Ward-Prowse – 5.5
Hojbjerg – 5.5
Tadic – 6
Carrillo – 4.5
57’ Boufal (Lemina) – 5
71’ Long (Ward-Prowse) – 5
80’ Davis (Romeu) – 5
A Champions league tie away at Porto for Liverpool before a home tie against West Ham in the league and Southampton travel to West Brom in the FA Cup before travelling to Burnley in the league. Both huge games for Southampton’s season as well as Liverpool’s.
Written by George Pavlou.