Southampton (H): What Lessons Did We Learn?
The performance proved to be good enough, but the result was all that truly mattered against Southampton on Saturday. In our last game before the World Cup, Liverpool simply couldn’t afford to surrender any further ground in their fight for a top-four finish. Ultimately, the Reds did prevail and in a certain sense, there’s a slight disappointment the break comes at a time when a sense of momentum was being built. However, as yesterday showed there’s plenty still to work on to ensure it’s beneficial.
Nunez Confident and Composed from the Left
Who’d have that a team struggling, combined with formations changes and injuries to key players would see a balanced equation of a front three with Darwin Nunez shining on the left. Southampton simply couldn’t handle the Uruguay hitman in the first half, who moves onto nine goals in all comps for the season. What proved more impressive in a man of the match performance was the 23 year-old’s all round link play and awareness. On another day, a perfectly weighted cross for Salah or clever back-heel for Firmino would have seen the summer signing from Benfica notch two further assists in the relevant column. Composed with his finishes and confident in his surroundings, maybe the break comes at the wrong time for him in a way.
Full Either Half Sea-Change
The narrative of a Liverpool game appeared to be set in stone earlier in the season. Start slowly, concede the first goal and then see what can be done to rescue the match. However, similarly to the Tottenham game, the Reds were quick out the blocks and found themselves a couple of goals to the good early on in this one. Whilst that’s a pleasing aspect to recent first half performances, there’s a slight concern to the latter stages. Like a week ago at the Spurs stadium, the energy did appear to fade and without key personnel at their best this tale could have told very differently. Jurgen Klopp will be pleased with back to back wins, but it won’t have escaped his attention that the legs of some don’t seem what they were. Let’s see if anything develops transfer-wise during the break.
Robbo Back in the Groove
Another of Liverpool’s key personnel who has not enjoyed the best of starts to season, Saturday was in keeping with recent performances from the Scottish captain. The 28 year-old has appeared back to his marauding best in recent weeks and two assists against Southampton were a more than apt reward for his efforts. The left side of the team has seen numerous formation and personnel changes throughout the season, but any potential murmurs heralding the benefits of Kostas Tsimikas becoming a starter appear to have been quashed. Liverpool have needed the old Robertson more and more as their campaign threatened to falter. He more than answered the call here.
Bobby Still the Ultimate Team Player
Few in the game could have endured a more disappointing week than Roberto Firmino, which saw his World Cup dream ended in heartbreak. The 30 year-old emphasised there were zero signs it could linger against the Saints in an all action-performance that showcased his full range of talents. Opening the scoring in the sixth minute, our number nine linked beautifully with Robertson in a sweeping team move that gave Nunez his second. A level head still need to be kept around his contract renewal as previously mentioned, but after a recent barren run this was a timely reminder of what the ultimate team player brings to the party. Brazil’s loss could prove to be Liverpool’s gain.
The Best in the World is… Allison Becker
For those who argue that the Brazilian stopper is the club’s best player, Saturday only added further evidence to their case. With little to do in the first half, bar pick the ball out of his net on one occasion the second half proved an entirely different story. Numerous 1-1 saves and a world-class stop diving to his right ensured the narrative remained a positive one for the Reds. Time and time again this season, Liverpool have called upon the brilliance of the 30 year-old to rescue them and this game was no different. If any of our players would get into a World XI right now it would surely be the former Roma keeper. The chant maybe for Bobby, but deep down everyone knows how it relates to Allison.