Saints' winning away run ends

By SFC Media time Sat 01 Feb Liverpool v Saints
Photo by Matt Watson | Danny Ings
Sat 01 Feb 3PM
Premier League
Liverpool
4
Southampton
0
Oxlade-Chamberlain [47'] Henderson [60'] Salah [71' 90']
goal
yellow card
Ward-Prowse (65') Stephens (89')
Referee: Kevin Friend | Venue: Anfield | Attendance: 53,291

Southampton’s run of consecutive Premier League away wins came to an end at Anfield, but not without a performance that had the runaway leaders worried at least until half time.

Saints’ game plan looked to be working as they restricted the Reds to very little in the first period, whilst increasing in confidence and creating chances of their own as the half went on.

But Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opener two minutes after the break set the tone for Liverpool to up the ante, and Saints fell the way of every Anfield visitor before them this season.

Captain Jordan Henderson added the hosts’ second, before setting up Mo Salah for number three.

Saints were already left reflecting on a margin of defeat that did not really do justice to their efforts, but there was further punishment to come, as Salah completed the scoring in the final minute of normal time.

Ralph Hasenhüttl made four changes to his side, and wasn’t afraid to take the game to the Premier League champions-in-waiting with an attacking selection.

Alex McCarthy was recalled in goal, with Angus Gunn having donned the gloves against Tottenham in last weekend’s FA Cup tie at St Mary’s.

Elsewhere, Oriol Romeu, Moussa Djenepo and Shane Long were preferred to Kevin Danso, Michael Obafemi and Stuart Armstrong, with the Scotsman sidelined by injury.

That prompted Hasenhüttl to shift James Ward-Prowse to right-back, with Cédric having departed for Arsenal, as Djenepo and Long joined Danny Ings and Nathan Redmond to form a speedy four-man attack.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Roberto Firminho(L) of Liverpool is tackled by James Ward-Prowse of Southampton during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield on February 01, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
James Ward-Prowse started the game at right-back, having performed well in that position in the win at Crystal Palace

Normally Ward-Prowse’s direct opponent as the left winger at Anfield would be Sadio Mané, but his injury prompted another former Saint, Oxlade Chamberlain, to start on that flank.

Whilst many sides have fallen behind early to the league's dominant team, Saints more than held their own in the opening exchanges, and were perplexed when Andrew Robertson’s clear backpass to goalkeeper Alisson was not spotted by referee Kevin Friend.

It was a let-off for Liverpool, who were lacking their usual fluency in blustery conditions on Merseyside.

it would take until the 20th minute for the first chance of note for either side, as again the hosts benefited from some generous officiating when Salah appeared to handle a high ball, before seeing his eventual shot deflected wide by the sliding Ward-Prowse, who made a fine block.

At the other end, Saints were struggling to penetrate a home defence that had conceded just one goal in its last nine Premier League outings, but their pressing from the front was causing problems. 

At one point the visitors found themselves two against one, but the one was Virgil van Dijk, who stretched a telescopic limb to cut out Ings’s cutback for Redmond.

Saints were not short of belief. Djenepo had the option of Ings to his left soon after, instead opting to go for goal with a fierce shot from 25 yards that forced an unconvincing save from the usually unflappable Alisson. 

Few Liverpool goalscorers would be less popular among the travelling fans that van Dijk, but the defender did threaten to make the breakthrough with a cheeky backheel, only for Alex McCarthy to read his intentions, stand his ground and make his first notable save, 32 minutes in.

From the same phase of play, Liverpool kept the ball alive and Henderson stood up a cross that hung in the air as Roberto Firmino went down under a challenge from Shane Long, but VAR confirmed no wrongdoing. 

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Moussa Djenepo of Southamptonn during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield on February 01, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matt Watson/Southampton FC via Getty Images)
Moussa Djenepo forced a save from Alisson, as Saints produced a confident first-half display at Anfield

Saints enjoyed their best spell in the last five minutes of the half, as Ings twisted and turned his way into a shooting position, only to strike against his own teammate, Long.

The Irishman then had an opening of his own, initially attempting to feed Ings, before the ball bounced back into his path and invited him to shoot, this time forcing a save from Alisson.

The Brazilian would be busy again when Pierre-Emile Højbjerg won the ball high up the pitch and surged forward, but his low shot towards the near post never had enough behind it to beat the keeper.

Saints resumed on the front foot at the start of the second period, as Ings’s quick feet carried him into the box, where he was sent tumbling by the outstretched leg of Fabinho. Play on.

And so down the other end went Liverpool, as Firmino’s flick invited Oxlade-Chamberlain to step inside and let fly with a low shot from 20 yards that deceived McCarthy, whose view was obstructed by bodies in front of him.

Whilst VAR did review Saints’ penalty claim after the goal, the chances of overruling Liverpool’s opener were slim to none.

Saints continued to fight, as an Ings shot deflected narrowly wide, but Henderson struck the killer second on the hour, leaving Hasenhüttl’s men with no way back.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s speculative clearance was perfect for Firmino, who controlled the dropping ball in an instant, waited for support and laid the ball on a plate for his captain to take aim with a composed finish from 10 yards.

When Henderson turned provider for Salah to race through and coolly lift the ball over McCarthy to make it three, the scoreline flattered the hosts, but Jürgen Klopp has built a well-oiled machine that doesn’t need to be functioning at its best to get the job done.

In between the second and third goals, Hasenhüttl replaced his front two, as Long and Ings departed – the latter to a standing ovation from his former supporters – with Michael Obafemi and Ché Adams entering the fray. 

Third substitute Sofiane Boufal went close to denying Liverpool yet another clean sheet, but Salah had the last laugh, bundling the ball home after more good work from Firmino, as the Kop celebrated yet another victory.

Liverpool

Head to Head Stats

Southampton
  • Possession (%)
    62
    comparison angle
    38
  • Shots
    16
    comparison angle
    17
  • Shots on target
    9
    comparison angle
    4
  • Corners
    6
    comparison angle
    11
  • Passes Complete
    403
    comparison angle
    205

Liverpool

1
Alisson (GK)
4
Virgil van Dijk
66
Trent Alexander-Arnold
12
Joseph Gomez
26
Andrew Robertson
3
Fabinho
14
Jordan Henderson (C) goal
replace Adam Lallana (88′)
5
Georginio Wijnaldum
replace Takumi Minamino (81′)
15
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain goal
replace Naby Keita (73′)
9
Roberto Firmino
11
Mohamed Salah goal goal
6
Dejan Lovren
8
Naby Keita
13
Adrián
18
Takumi Minamino
27
Divock Origi
32
Joel Matip
20
Adam Lallana

Southampton

1
Alex McCarthy (GK)
5
Jack Stephens yellow card
35
Jan Bednarek
16
James Ward-Prowse yellow card
21
Ryan Bertrand
12
Moussa Djenepo
replace Sofiane Boufal (82′)
23
Pierre-Emile Højbjerg (C)
14
Oriol Romeu
22
Nathan Redmond
9
Danny Ings
replace Che Adams (70′)
7
Shane Long
replace Michael Obafemi (70′)
19
Sofiane Boufal
27
William Smallbone
38
Kevin Danso
28
Angus Gunn
20
Michael Obafemi
4
Jannik Vestergaard
10
Che Adams
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