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PL: Liverpool 4 v 0 Southampton 2' 33' Jota, 37' Thiago, 52' Virgil

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--- Quote from: jackh on November 25, 2021, 09:22:39 am ---Liverpool vs Southampton

15:00, Saturday 27th October 2021
Anfield, Liverpool
Premier League
Referee: Andre Marriner

Supporters of both Liverpool and Southampton alike could be forgiven for lamenting ‘seasons of two halves’ going into their meeting in early May last season. Having been top of the Premier League at Christmas, following a 7-0 victory away to Crystal Palace, injury-hit Liverpool had won just three of their next fourteen matches up to mid-March. A trio of spring wins against Wolves, Arsenal, and Villa had given slight promise of a late-season fightback, but confidence, hope, and resilience were in extremely short supply after the Reds fell to back-to-back late equalisers to Leeds and Wolves – they sat 7th, 7 points from 4th, going into their final five matches. Southampton’s own impressive opening ‘half’ of the campaign ran until game 17 – a 1-0 home victory against Liverpool, after which they sat 9th, on 26 points and only 3 from the top four (and with a game in hand). The Saints would somewhat collapse from this point on, however, taking just 8 points from their next thirteen matches and dropping to 15th.

Though still at nowhere near their best, the Reds were able to claim a professional 2-0 home victory courtesy of goals from Sadio Mane and – his first for Liverpool – Thiago. The win nudged Liverpool into the top six – though supporters’ hopes of qualifications remained more in hearts than heads – whilst defeat extended Southampton’s dismal run amidst a state of anonymous safety. The run-in would prove exhilarating for Jurgen Klopp’s side – Mo Salah’s breakaway late goal to seal a 4-2 victory at Old Trafford felt like a turning point, whilst Alisson’s headed injury-time winner at The Hawthorns reminded Liverpool supporters of just why they should never give up. ‘Head up high’ and ‘with hope in your heart’ indeed. With renewed confidence & belief, two more victories (against Burnley and Crystal Palace) saw the Reds finish an unlikely – given the context – 3rd in the league. Though never really in danger going into their final four, Southampton too claimed a couple of wins – 3-1 against Crystal Palace and Fulham – before defeats to Leeds and West Ham saw them finish a lowly 16th, but 15 points clear of the drop zone.

After a seven-season absence (two of which were spent as low as League One, for the first time since 1960), it seems fair to say that Southampton have settled back to familiar territory: an only-occasionally-in-trouble top-half-of-the-bottom-half top-flight team, as they were for much of the period between promotion in 1978 and their relegation in 2005 (they’re also behind only the Premier League ever-presents and Manchester City in terms of their length of current stay). The likes of Paul Jones, Claus Lundekvam, and Matt le Tissier are the names that spring to mind from my own childhood, whilst I also recall Egil Ostenstad, James Beattie, and Marian Pahars being amongst the goals for the Saints. They finished a solid 14th in their return season, under Nigel Adkins, but performed really well with a talented squad* that finished 8th, 7th, 6th, & 8th between 2014 & 2017. They’ve reverted to type a little during the last four years, and – under Ralph Hassenhuttl – appear a somewhat unusual side who deliver half-and-half campaigns of the good and the very bad (see 2019-20 and 2020-21, across which their form was the 5th best in the league over a 43 game period).

(*and one particular team that lined up with: Forster, Clyne, Alderweireld, Fonte, Bertrand, Schneiderlin, Wanyama, Davis, Tadic, Mane, Pelle).

Southampton’s start to the 2021-22 campaign has been…well…very Southampton. The visitors were poor during the early stints of the season, taking just 4 points (from draws) from their opening seven matches, but performed well between the last pair of international breaks, going undefeated and claiming 10 points from four matches – last time out, they lost 2-1 away to then-bottom of the table Norwich City. Southampton can be a really difficult team to predict – looking at their run of fixtures through December and the festive period, it’s hard to call whether it presents opportunity or jeopardy. What’s for sure, however, is that a trip to Anfield represents an unlikely potential scalp rather a game they’ll be expecting multiple points from – sitting 13th, clear of the relegation zone and in touch with the top-half, a solid performance may be more important than the result when it comes to establishing a foundation of confidence for the weeks ahead.

It’s perhaps fair to say that the Reds have started the season with modest success – they sit 3rd, just out of touch with leaders Chelsea, and are the league’s top scorers. Four draws and a defeat to West Ham mean that Klopp’s side have yet to truly build a head of steam in the Premier League, however, and even the emphatic defeat of an in-form Arsenal side is difficult to read too much into. Leaders Chelsea face both Liverpool and Man City either side of their January FA Cup fixture, in what is likely to be a pivotal pair of fixtures – to ensure genuine confidence going into that Chelsea game, you sense that Liverpool must be no further away from the summit than the current 4 points. Saturday’s game represents the first of a run of league matches to see out 2021 that Liverpool will be expected to win each one of, and professional efficiency will be key through this period.

Southampton – with a free midweek in which to prepare for their trip north – are almost at full strength ahead of this weekend’s match. With his team one of the league’s worst performers in front of goal, Hassenhuttl will be pleased to welcome Jack Stephens back to his defence in order to provide some reinforcement – not only against Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, and Mo Salah on Saturday, but also to try to help tip the balance during the coming weeks and prevent potential wins & draws becoming draws & defeats. Liverpool have qualified for the Champions League knockout stages with two games to spare and so had the luxury of making some changes midweek, though may be more restricted at the weekend – Klopp remains without injured Bobby Firmino and Harvey Elliott, whilst Saturday may come a few days too early for the midfield pair of Naby Keita and Curtis Jones.

--- End quote ---



The teams are coming out.

0 Liverpool are attacking the Anfield Road end.


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