SOUTHAMPTON 0 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool have beaten one of the top 5 teams and moves into the sixth place! YES, we took all three points from a team that has been surprisingly successful this season and so we may just be fighting over one of the top 4 spots that will guarantee Champions League football next season.
The Race for competing in European competition next season is ON. Even a fifth place finish qualifies a team for Europa League. But what we really want is some Champions League action, which only a place in the Premier League top 4 will give us.
At the expense of Tottenham Hotspurs, who could only manage to gain a single point from a draw with West Ham in a local London derby this weekend, Liverpool moved up from the 7th place they have been stuck in for a while now and claimed 6th as our own from this point onwards.
Just 1 point clear of Tottenham now, Liverpool must keep getting better results than them or so much as a draw for Liverpool while Spurs win could see them move ahead of us again as the “Race For Europe” continues further into the season. The equation is simple: if they win, we must win! If they draw, it’d still be better if we win to gain two points and widen the point gap, but at the very least drawing would see us keep our place in the league table rather than just sinking to 7th again. LOSING IS NOT AN OPTION. We’d have to rely on all 5 of the teams above us (and the one directly below us) to lose as well for it not to matter if we couldn’t even manage a draw and still retain our league position.
Liverpool had already beaten Southampton once in 2014-2015, on the first day of the season back in August. Back then, we saw a goal in either half scored by Sterling (in the first half) and Sturridge (in the second half) as we took all three points in a 2-1 win at Anfield.
This time, we didn’t even concede a goal as we managed another 2 goal victory over the Saints. Credit to the defense and to Simon Mignolet for that!
Mignolet actually got awarded “man of the match” today, despite there being a controversial moment in the game when the Liverpool goalkeeper rushed out of his penalty area to meet Eljero Elia in a challenge for the ball and appeared to have handled the ball, though the referee must not have seen any wrongdoing by Mignolet as he did not call any foul.
Mignolet is starting to push his total of “clean sheets” (no goals conceded in the games played) to a higher amount than most other goalkeepers in the Premier League. Liverpool have just managed to keep five successive away game (league) clean sheets for the first time since 1985, in fact. I was surprised at this record considering that Liverpool have challenged to win the league on more than one occasion in the last decade (remember we had both Torres and Suarez, scoring about 30 goals a season as we headed to the top of the table), but clearly we had won some games while conceding at least 1 goal in our away games and the result we got seemed to have mattered more than not conceding back then. Mignolet is really getting back to his best form now though and doesn’t seem to want to let any goals in at all.
Surprising, considering that back in December, he was being replaced by Brad Jones as first choice goalkeeper for not performing well enough. I think that shows you the high standard of goalkeeping expected in the Premier League and at a club like Liverpool. “Average” isn’t good enough. You have to be one of the best in the league, or you’re likely to be replaced for someone who can live up to those expectations and standards of high quality.
The starting lineup was rather “as expected”. The manager was highly likely to put Lallana, Lovren and Lambert into the squad to face their old team (they’re ex Southampton players) and did so. He put Lambert on the bench and would not use him in the game at all, but Lallana and Lovren got plenty of time on the pitch against their former club. Jordan Henderson keeps wearing that captain’s armband while Gerrard’s out. I have to say, I like the look of it on him. He’d make a great regular choice for captain as soon as Gerrard has left the club.
Raheem Sterling has recently recovered from the injury he picked up in the Merseyside derby and is now claiming a starters place in the first team once more for Liverpool. He even contributed a goal today (more about that in a minute). We still have the injured key players (Lucas and Gerrard) but with a squad as large as ours, we’ve dealt with it well and I just love seeing Jordon Ibe in action.
The weather in Southampton wasn’t great, it poured rain onto the players as they ran about the pitch in their shirts and shorts. Rain doesn’t usually make for a very high scoring game, but it actually would not be very long at all before we saw the first goal of the game.
Liverpool’s football in the first half was magical, right from the start. Coutinho (AKA The Magician) had scored in under three minutes of play to give Liverpool a one goal lead early on in the first half which they would hold until after the half time break.
Assisted by a pass from Lazar Markovic, Coutinho would fire a 35 yard shot that the Southampton goalkeeper could only watch fly in to his net as it crashed against the crossbar and flew into the top left corner of the goal. Southampton 0 – 1 Liverpool.
The first half would continue with more attacking football from Liverpool but we would not see any more goals in the first 45 minutes. Jordon Ibe, Coutinho, Markovic and Henderson kept up their quality football and teamwork which is a credit to the squad. We would not see Southampton’s effort’s produce anything worth mentioning.
The next half began and although Lazar Markovic had put in a good performance that had included an assist for a goal, Brendan Rodgers would decide to bring Alberto Moreno on to play a full second half. He still had Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge on the substitute bench if he wanted either of arguably, his best strikers.
Eventually (with about half an hour left to play), Sturridge would get used by the manager. Mario would not get any game time in this fixture with the last person to be brought onto the pitch being Glen Johnson, as he replaced Jordon Ibe.
Liverpool looked very much like holding onto their one goal lead, at least. It didn’t really look at any moment that Southampton could score and perhaps get themselves a draw, they just were not playing well enough for that and the referee certainly wasn’t doing them any favours.
They had even had penalty claims (yes, more than one) denied as both Emre Can and Joe Allen had brought down Filip Djuricic inside our own penalty area on separate occasions, but were not charged with committing a foul either time, the referee would not blow his whistle to penalize Liverpool. That’s actually kind of rare, I’ve had to complain that referees had been treating us quite harshly before (particularly against our biggest rivals who would start winning most decisions about fouls) but didn’t have to do that for this game.
Despite looking like winning by a single goal, Liverpool would score again. Shortly after a free kick given for a foul by Victor Wanyama, there was a build up after the set piece that led to our next goal. Raheem Sterling would place his powerful shot to left of the Southampton goalkeeper and even if he got a hand to it, the rain and the power of the shot would make sure that it’d slip past his fingers and into the net.
Southampton 0 – 2 Liverpool.
Liverpool now had a two goal lead and only twenty minutes of the game left to play. Southampton had a bit of time but simply not enough good attacking football or chances on goal to make any kind of comeback to salvage a point from a draw. Liverpool would play out the remainder of the game and eventually, the referee blew his whistle to declare us the winners and we made our way up to 6th place in the Premier League.
Liverpool will now focus their attention on the Europa League once more as we soon will play the second leg of our “last 32” cup tie, which we already have a one goal advantage in, on aggregate. A draw can see us progress to the next round, but I’d still like to see a win in this game. We could show our next opponents in this competition what it means to face us. We don’t ever give up, WE ARE LIVERPOOL!
Keep your heads held high as you walk on, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so i was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.
I’m a die hard Liverpool fan (only supported ONE club in my whole life, Liverpool) and one of the most dedicated fans you’ll ever meet.