Forget Crystal Palace, Liverpool came unstuck against another one of their bogey teams on Sunday afternoon as they failed to break down a resolute Southampton defence. That’s now 360 minutes played against The Saints in this season in which Liverpool have failed to score.
After grinding out a 1-0 win against Watford with Manchester City and United both dropping points and Arsenal losing to rivals Spurs, Liverpool’s top-four chances took a massive boost. However, Southampton certainly rained on that parade, putting Champions League qualification back in doubt in a season that continues to twist and turn at every opportunity.
Here are the observations from the match.
Klopp gets it wrong, again…
It was another case of deja vu for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp at Anfield. Too little too late from the boss. Bringing on Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge were obvious choices from the bench with the game locked in a stalemate, but failure to make the moves until the 70th minute proved part of The Reds’ undoing on the day.
When they came on, there was a much greater attacking verve to the play. A higher calibre of threat made the crowd come alive. Divock Origi was once again sub-par and after the full-time whistle you’re left to wonder – would it have been a different story had Sturridge of started the game?
Whatever you may think of the injury-prone striker, his quality and eye for goal are abundantly clear. His counterpart doesn’t possess the ability to change a game at the click of a button like Sturridge does, and with Klopp identifying that strength prior to the match, it’s a real puzzler as to why he took so long to call on the forward.
Lallana too. The midfielder, while only recently off the injury table, replaced Coutinho very early on against Watford on Monday night and did a fine job in instigating the attacking play and driving Liverpool forward. It was a similar case when he was introduced on Sunday afternoon, too. However, it was too little too late in the end and questions are once again left for Klopp to answer.
Clearly, a talented coach who has, and will continue to, bring this club forward, why on earth does he take so long to make a change? There can be no excuses about a lack of quality options this time.
Forget the fans, it was the players who didn’t turn up
Everything that could go against Liverpool did in terms of decisions but make no mistake, this was a poor performance from the players. Watching on, you wouldn’t have thought they were a bunch of lads fighting for their place among Europe’s elites next season.
The tempo was painfully pedestrian. There was a distinct lack of creativity and Southampton’s brick wall showed no signs of budging. It’s all too familiar a story with this Liverpool. Without the pace of Sadio Mane to surge at defenders and stretch the play, this group of player really lacks ideas. No injection of pace. No urgency and no drive. Liverpool fluffed their chance to take the initiative in the race for top four, leaving fans to watch on anxiously as Arsenal and Manchester United battle it out.
Prior to the game, Klopp spoke of the need for fans to find their voices. Liverpool are on the cusp of Europe again and the fans were to play a big part in guiding them there on Saturday. Ironic then, that it was the players who failed to find their voices. With so much to play for, it’s utterly bemusing how this squad failed to rally itself for the occasion.
When the luck isn’t with you, it’s really not with you
When Liverpool were awarded a penalty deep into the second-half, the sighs of relief around Anfield were palpable. James Milner had yet to miss from the spot and you’d have bet your house on that record continuing to dig Liverpool out of a whole and toward the Champions League.
But it just wasn’t meant to be. Mr Reliable couldn’t get past Fraser Forster, with the ‘keeper getting down well to deny him from the spot.
All in all, it was a pretty dismal display from Liverpool considering the stakes. Next up is a trip to West Ham, who will be buoyant after beating Spurs on Friday night. Hardly an easy task. Jurgen, rally the troops.