Although the current Champions hold on to the Premier League top spot on goal difference, Jurgen Klopp’s men failed to take the opportunity to go three points clear of rivals Manchester United, with Ole's boys having a game in hand over their rivals now also.
For home side Southampton, it was to be their their first win since a 3-0 victory over doomed Sheffield United on December 13th, and the first time under boss Ralph Hasenhuttl they had taken points off Liverpool, having lost their previous six meetings between the two teams.
And it was the home side who started the brighter. flying out the traps forcing Thiago Alcantara to give away an early free-kick on his return to the starting line-up. Not an ideal situation when Saints boast one of the best set piece takers around in James Ward-Prowse, who found former Liverpool striker Danny Ings with a clever free-kick. The 28-year-old took a touch before finishing brilliantly over the keeper into the far corner to make it 1-0. The striker took advantage of a rare lapse in concentration from the usually reliable Trent Alexander-Arnold who was part of a makeshift Liverpool defence, with Klopp naming his 10th centre-back pairing in 17 top-flight matches this season.
It took until the half hour mark for Liverpool to create their first significant chance of the game, when Sadio Mane cut in and curled the ball towards goal, but his shot went over the bar.
Liverpool then tried to put the pressure on the home side after the goal, but despite having 62 per cent of the possession in the first half, Jurgen Klopp's men couldn't create any clear cut chances and often resorted to long balls, something we have rarely seen under the Germans management.
They did have a penalty shout in the second half when Wijnaldum’s shot struck Jack Stephens on the arm. VAR got involved and but did not overrule the referee’s decision and the game carried on.
Mane then went down in the penalty area just before the hour mark under the challenge of Kyle Walker-Peters – but again referee Andre Marriner waved play on and this time VAR did not take a look at the incident.
Despite the expected pressure, Liverpool’s first shot on target came in the 75th minute when Mane found himself inside the area in space, he managed to get a shot away but it lacked power and Fraser Forster, was able to save comfortably. The Saints stopper was making his first appearance since December 2017 after regular Alex McCarthy tested positive for coronavirus,
Southampton almost doubled their lead in the 84th minute when Yan Valery beat Liverpool keeper Alisson to the ball, after the stopper had come 30 yards out his goal to clear the danger. Luckily for the Brazilian, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson was there to save the day and bail him out.
Southampton recorded their first win in 5 games and the result clearly meant a lot to their Austrian manager Ralph Hasenhutti, who dropped to his knees and appeared to be in tears as the final whistle went. His side have been much improved this season and are now up to 6th in the Premier League.
Liverpool have just 1 win in their last 4 games, all were fixtures they would have expected to win. Their constant changing of the defence, due to their extremely unlucky injury list, has seen a lack of consistency for Klopp's side over the last few weeks. You would think there will be funds available for the Liverpool boss to strengthen this month, and failure to land a quality CB and possibly a creative midfielder could see them lose out on retaining their title.
Its Manchester United up next in the League for Liverpool, massive improvement is needed if they are to get 3 priceless 3 points in that fixture. Man Utd will go into the game on fire and in my opinion, Liverpool's defence will not be able to overcome the heat they will bring to the game judging on current form.
SAINTS 1 LIVERPOOL 0
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