FULL TIME AT ANFIELD REVIEW: RED HOT LIVERPOOL COOLED BY SOUTHAMPTON

Playing at St. Mary’s in November – not a prospect to fill an attacking side with much joy. It’s a lengthy pitch and the most effective way to get through would be to soak up pressure and hit them on the counter. Your defense has to be very resolute for that to happen as well, a risky proposition for this Liverpool side that has shown much flair upfront than in their own final third against EPL opposition this season; so that style of play wasn’t happening under this Klopp revolution. The plan – take it to the opposition sticking to our usual style, which would be unusual because two main actors to the Liverpool attacking script would be absent. Lallana out with a gnawing injury from his international duties and even though Coutinho got the nod today, word round the campfire was that he wasn’t truly 100%. Hopefully his partners upfront, Mane and Firmino would make his job a little easier.

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Liverpool XI (4,3,3): Karius; Clyne, Matip, Lovren, Milner; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Can; Mane, Firmino, Coutinho.
Subs: Sturridge, Grujic, Klavan, Moreno, Lucas, Mignolet, Origi.

I must say Liverpool’s attacking-possession game is really coming to maturity and despite conditions at St. Mary’s, we kept the ball all through and Southampton couldn’t get a shot on goal for the whole match but in the end goals and not possession or any other impressive stats is what brings the points home and this in retrospect seems very much like Klopp’s men not capitalizing on the chances they created to take all points.
Former Saint, Sadio Mane looked to get Liverpool ahead before the half-hour mark with a stunning effort that could only be denied by an equally remarkable piece of goal-keeping skill as Fraser Forster, at full stretch, kept things even after his former teammate found some space to run into to release that strike.

That woke the Saints defenses to the Mane threat as, just moments later, Klopp’s Senegalese superstar was at it again his pace too much for the trailing Austin to keep up with and just as Sadio was lining up his shot, a perfectly timed sliding tackle by Virgil Van Dijk stopped another potential Liverpool opener. A half-chance hit over the bar by Wijnaldum at the end of the half saw out what was an interesting first half for us as our momentum seemed to build nicely as the half progressed. Match stood goalless going in but a confident performance overall especially from our back four and Henderson as they contained every threat from the Saints.

Southampton's Sofiane Boufal, left, and Liverpool's Jordan Henderson battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton, England, Saturday Nov. 19, 2016. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)
Southampton’s Sofiane Boufal, left, and Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton, England, Saturday Nov. 19, 2016. (Nick Potts/PA via AP)

The second half saw Liverpool pretty much pick up where they left off as wave after wave of attack hit the Saints defenses from every side. Most notable of the half was Coutinho’s miss after Firmino, taking advantage of a sloppy turnover, slid the pass to his compatriot, but Coutinho, under pressure from Fonte scuffed his effort wide from close range. Gilt-edge misses by Firmino and Mane got the realization sinking in that it really wasn’t going to be our day. Late-in-the-game sub, Sturridge almost got us our last laugh but it wasn’t to be as his immaculate cross, after getting past Redmond at the byline, found Wijnaldum but the Dutchman could only steer his header wide.
And so the game ended – a frustrating draw but a lot of positives were drawn from that game especially from how resolute, confident, and composed our defenses were. Our resilient duo, Matip and Lovren showing why the coming matches should have them unchanged going forward.

Man of the Match:
DejanLovren: Our big Croatian climbs to the top rung this match day in what was a defensive masterclass that had everything – grit, composure, intelligent marking. He partnered well with Matip to make life miserable for Southampton’s forwards.

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