SOUTHAMPTON 3-2 LIVERPOOL
Sorry, Reds fans. We finished this fixture without a single point to show for it. One day, we’re beating Man United to get to the Europa League quarter Finals and shortly after we’re throwing away a two goal lead and conceding three times against Southampton. Doesn’t make much sense, does it? Sometimes we just don’t get lucky. Luck is a part of football. There were other reasons for our defeat apart from (bad) luck aswell, though. We’ll get to exactly why we didn’t win this game. There were some good points to talk about too and we’ll mention those first.
Divock Origi was paired up with Daniel Sturridge in a striker’s partnership for maybe the first time this season in a starting 11 because Firmino has picked up an injury while playing on international duty with Brazil. Alberto Moreno still isn’t fit enough to make it back into our squad yet, forcing us to keep picking new left backs (who aren’t really natural left backs).
The manager could only use Henderson as a substitute and James Milner had been suspended (1 match ban after picking up 5 yellow cards).
Therefore, our two main choices for captain were not starting the game against Southampton. Jon Flanagan would be named captain.
Flanagan has recently renewed his stay at Liverpool, signing a new contract for at least a further three years. The local lad from Liverpool also now got to lead his team out to the delight of Liverpool fans who want to see real Scousers in the team doing well. In addition to that, apparently England manager Roy Hodgson was at the ground to watch squad players from England, doing a bit of scouting of the English international stars. Flanagan had made an appearance for the senior England team during the 2014 World Cup, which Roy Hodgson had been managing at the time, so it can’t hurt to show off the Liverpool captain’s armband to his country’s manager. Maybe it inspires Hodgson to use him some more. Good enough for Liverpool? Good enough for England then!
Other prominent Scousers in the past few years (5 at most) for the senior Liverpool side have included Rickie Lambert, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Jack Robinson, Jay Spearing, Conor Coady, Stephen Darby and Jordan Rossiter. Only Jordan Rossiter remains at Liverpool of these names, but he is not currently fit enough to play in the Liverpool senior squad, after picking up a hamstring injury during international duty in mid-October 2015. These type of injuries are longterm but he is expected to be fully fit and ready for selection by Klopp in November 2016. Until then, Jon Flanagan will be the only Liverpool player actually born in Liverpool left for Klopp to pick.
Anyway, the Southampton game… The first half was definitely better than the second half for Liverpool.
Even in the first couple of minutes, Liverpool had been attacking and won a corner kick. We continued to pressure Southampton at their own ground from early on in the game. There were two goals in the first half and both of them were Liverpool’s. We’d done well enough to not concede at all and take a two goal lead for ourselves by half time.
The first goal came around the 17th minute, after Adam Lallana passed to Coutinho who was out on the left wing, around the half way line. Coutinho took the ball and ran, dribbling past multiple players until he got to around 25 yards away from goal and let fly with a spectacular shot that just needed a single bounce to get past the diving goalkeeper before flying into the bottom right corner of the net. Simply magic from the magician. Southampton 0-1 Liverpool.
Liverpool would only have to play for 5 more minutes before they’d have another goal now, also. In the 22nd minute, Divock Origi was on the edge of the Southampton penalty area and put a ball through to Daniel Sturridge who was running into a dangerous position on the right, inside of the penalty area. Once Sturridge got the ball, he curled a left footed shot that went in between the two defenders who were coming in to tackle him for the ball and AROUND the Southampton goalkeeper and into the left hand side of the goal. If it had been a straight shot it would have been either blocked by a defender or saved by the goalkeeper but this shot curled so much that nobody could get in the way of it before it ended up in the net. Southampton 0-2 Liverpool.
Liverpool had scored two goals in 5 minutes (from the 17th minute onwards) and would do well enough to keep that lead, until the half time break. Our defence was working well together, Lovren and Sakho had no problems dealing with any attacks Southampton made during the first 45 minutes. I felt confident that Liverpool may have already done enough to be victorious by the end of the game, but we had an entire second half still to play yet. Typically, if Liverpool take a two goal lead they don’t lose (NEVER happened before actually), but this time… they conceded three goals and lost to their opponents unfortunately. I’ll walk you through all three of Southampton’s goals and answer the “WHERE DID IT ALL GO WRONG?” question that most Reds are asking at the moment.
First of all, the manager is not entirely to blame for our defeat. Players are supposed to take as much blame as the man who has to choose who’ll be playing in the team, too. Dejan Lovren had been yellow carded in the 25th minute, although kept playing until the half time whistle was blown. That’s at least 20 minutes of playing with a yellow card. If he was going to get booked again, surely he’d have done it in those 20 minutes? Anyway, Klopp decided at half time that he was going to substitute Lovren for Martin Skrtel.
Martin Skrtel is known for being a tough player, who mostly has been bald, playing with a shaved head since the day he joined our club. Recently, he’s been out injured for so long that when he came back into the squad, he’d even grown a full head of hair again!
So, Klopp had chosen a player who has been out for quite a while and clearly needs “match practice” to replace the best defender we had in the game, pretty much. Yes, Lovren had been booked and there was a possibility of him receiving a second yellow card in the same game but honestly, I thought he was being careful enough that it likely wouldn’t happen and we really needed him more than a player who was only just returning to action again. This was a turning point in the game, where Southampton gained an advantage over us. Many times Klopp’s substitutions work out but this time, they just didn’t. It gave Southampton a chance to make their comeback.
Skrtel wasn’t ready, plain and simple. Lovren was handling the attacks from Southampton players just fine before and had been working well with Sakho, not just in this fixture but also in previous fixtures they were forming an impressive partnership in central defence. Sakho has even been seen hugging and kissing his defensive partner, they are very affectionate with each other. They’re definitely aware that they need to be alongside each other, because it works out well.
Breaking up this partnership to replace one of them with a player who has only just returned to full fitness after an injury was a very BAD idea. It led to defensive errors by Martin Skrtel and goals to be scored by Southampton because of that. We all make mistakes now and again and unfortunately, Klopp made one mistake in his decision to replace Lovren with Skrtel and Martin Skrtel made some mistakes, allowing Southampton to score goals and make their comeback to victory in a game we had been leading by two goals.
The reason for Skrtel’s introduction to the game was a yellow card (Lovren’s yellow card) but Skrtel ended up getting one of those, also. He’d even concede a penalty early in the second half as he grabbed Graziano Pelle’s shirt and pulled him down to the ground in what was an undeniable penalty, even Reds fans can admit this. We were just lucky (at the time) that Simon Mignolet heroically saved the penalty that would be taken. It looked like a good omen for us at the time, that we would not be beaten or even concede a penalty in the game. But there would be plenty more time for things to go from good to bad for Liverpool.
One other substitution of note that was made at half time, was Southampton’s. Sadio Mané replaced Dusan Tadic. WHY was this such a notable change? Well, Sadio Mané scored two of the three goals for Southampton and wasn’t even supposed to have been able to play in this game.
Sadio Mané should have been suspended. He’d received a red card in a previous fixture but the referee’s card was appealed and overturned by the Football Association, allowing Mané to continue playing when he would have had at least a 1 match ban. I honestly don’t remember the last time Liverpool had a suspension overturned or even reduced when the FA were dealing with our players. In the season where Liverpool almost won the league and Luis Suarez had scored THIRTY TWO goals, as we chased Manchester City for the Premier League title – Luis Suarez had been under a TEN-MATCH BAN, given by the FA. Who’s to say how many extra goals he could have scored and how many extra points we’d have gained if he’d had his suspension overturned or even reduced by just a few games? It could have been the difference to what allowed us to win the league for the first time since 1990. The FA really had an impact on our season.
Yet again, there seems to be an agenda for the FA to make decisions that affect Liverpool negatively. “Southampton are playing Liverpool next? Oh, let’s allow Sadio Mané to play in that fixture even though he was supposed to be suspended for this game”. Then Mané goes and scores two goals to help Southampton win their game, in which they were two goals down in. I don’t entirely blame Klopp or Martin Skrtel for this loss, no… the Football Association (FA) play a part in our defeat too. I could go on more about the FA, they have members of their board who have clear allegiances to other clubs like Chelsea and Manchester United who are obvious rivals to Liverpool but, “there’s not much point in crying over spilt milk” as they say. It’d be nice if the FA didn’t help other teams to mess up our season but what’s done is done and cannot be changed. We’ll pick ourselves up and move on to greater things. Because they’re unlikely to get worse than this.
Specifically, Southampton’s goals had occurred in the 65th, 83rd and 86th minutes. There was only three minutes between the two last goals which were scored to secure their victory. I’ve mentioned Sadio Mané scored two of the goals already, but the other one of the three they would get was scored by Graziano Pelle, who had also assisted Mané for his goals. Quite the pair, they make. Devastatingly good for Southampton and devastatingly bad for Liverpool.
This would have been “one to remember” if we’d won it, 0-2 maybe. Coutinho’s and Sturridge’s goals were both special but Reds fans are likely to think of this as “one to forget” now that it ended in bitter defeat. We’ve got better things to focus on in our near future, like preparing for facing Klopp’s old club Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League Quarter Finals. The FA can’t mess with that! It’s a UEFA competition and it’s definitely more important than three points against Southampton in the Premier league.
Man Of the Match?
That goal by Coutinho was so special and he worked extra hard as his Brazilian friend Firmino wasn’t fit enough to play in this game. He’d provide assists to the strikers and score himself, there really wasn’t anyone made as much effort or who did as well our Magician. Coutinho’s Man Of The Match.
(Sorry Southampton fans but even if Sadio Mané got two goals and Coutinho only got one, Mané shouldn’t even have been playing due to suspension and I still have to only pick a Liverpool player for this).
Well, we go again!
We’ll soon have to play Tottenham Hotspurs in the Premier League just as soon as April begins. Until then, walk on with hope in your hearts and You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[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 (more than 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.