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Football News: Liverpool v Southampton Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective

Liverpool v Southampton Match Review - A Liverpool Perspective
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Liverpool v Southampton A Liverpool Perspective#

 

That was what you call a thoroughly professional performance from Liverpool. Southampton entered the game in the hopes of frustrating with a deep defensive line to leave no space in behind and just let Shane Long try and keep the LFC defence from having it too easy by doing what he does best. Run around mindlessly like a slightly more brainless headless chicken. Klopp was set up to cope with that, giving Shaqiri a free role to create, putting Salah central to ensure the Saints defence could not get out and it worked. Liverpool dominated the first half, Shaqiri got two assists and a 3-0 lead to take into the dressing room.

There were a few issues, Shaqiri was guilty of giving away possession cheaply a few times and the midfield was a man light defensively, which allowed Soton to attack Robertson using Redmond's pace. Klopp decided to do something he never normally does and change it at half-time, despite the lead. Closing out a game with good game management has been visible by its absence in previous years, this season it has become a major facet of Liverpool's game and it once again was in evidence. Southampton never really threatened to even make a game of it in the second half.

It must be pointed out that Southampton were missing the player who has been their main goal threat this season, Danny Ings. With no one else in their squad, with the exception of Hojbjerg, looking even capable of threatening a goal and Hojbjerg playing too deep to be a force in the final third, it ended up being a limp performance by them. Hughes played into Klopp's hands and has to take a major part of the blame for such an underwhelming attempt to get a point.

Now to answer the questions from Azk (I will try and address the points made by sgynwa in the player by player section):
1. The change up top (Bobby left, salah top etc) ; was that done to exploit their cb's pace or was there another reason? I recall a few times balls were sent over the top for mo to chase so it seemed like there were some space in behind.

I believe the idea was to put Salah central as neither of their centre backs have any pace at all, so they either had to drop off and create space in front of them or be exposed by the ball over the top. It was clear it worked and that they did not know what to do, so ended up doing a bit of nothing and getting caught in no man's land. They were not deep enough to stop balls in behind, nor where they high enough to restrict the space for Shaqiri to operate in.

2. Shaq's role in the team; I would imagine this is similar to what he did at stoke in the no 10 role?

Yes, it is almost exactly the role he was given there at times, though he did not drift out to the right as much yesterday as he tended to do with Stoke City. The main difference is the amount of players he had around and ahead of him. With Stoke there was one forward and him, so his options were limited. Yesterday he had Mane, Salah and Firmino to offer him options.

 

Klopp - did a great job, made early and decisive subsitutions and saw his side pick up a very easy win. While there was a risk attached to starting with van Dijk due to the knock he was carrying, I think it was important to have him out there in order to not give the opposition a lift before kick off. Taking him off when 3-0 up is a totally different proposition from starting at 0-0 without him in the team. Rating: 9.

 

Alisson - he was excellent, swept up, cleared up field when needed and picked out a pass when possible. There was one cross I heard him criticised for punching in the first half, but letting it come in to his arms while a player was rushing in would have been a huge risk. I personally think he had to reach out and punch like he did. What I really like is the way he dominates in behind the back line and controls the box. He had an easy day but that was in large part due to him. Rating: 8

 

Alexander-Arnold - completely dominated his side of the pitch along with Mane. Once more he was the main out ball every time one was needed. It was almost too easy for him. Rating: 8.5.

 

Matip - it scared the life out of me seeing his name on the team sheet, but he scored a goal and was mostly very good. Just a couple of his usual lapses. I even saw him chasing back with real pace at one point, something he normally fails miserably to do. Maybe the competition of places has seen him raise his game. It was certainly the best performance from him I can remember seeing, though he was not put under enough pressure really to test him out. That is the reason why both he and van Dijk are unable to get really high marks, as neither were really ever challenged. Rating: 7.5.

 

van Dijk - was completely dominant up until his knock. It was one of his best performances in a Liverpool shirt. Admittedly Long is not much of a test, but he passed it with flying colours anyway. Rating: 7.5.

 

Robertson - he is playing a much less attacking role than previously, allowing Alexander-Arnold free rein to charge forward at will. However, as sgynwa pointed out, he does not stop crosses, which is something that could be costly against a team with a more direct style of play. Played well but he needs to work on closing out wingers more aggressively to stop crosses coming in. Rating: 8.5.

 

Wijnaldum - another good game, though not quite as obviously good as the last one. He had to be a lot more restrained and work on protecting the backline with less emphasis on getting forward. Did exactly what he had to do. Rating: 8.

 

Henderson - once more he controlled the game from midfield, getting forward when it was possible but mostly covering the defence and ensuring Soton could not get out. Rating: 8.

 

Shaqiri - that was some debut, he only needed 45 minutes to show some real quality and workrate. Two assists were a big plus, though he was unlucky to not have a goal and an assist instead. Having him there in a free role was great for breaking down their defence, but it did leave the team open to being countered, if Southampton could have got their act together. There were a couple of times he gave the ball away, but mainly his work was effective. Rating: 8.

 

Salah - looked more like the Salah of last season, as Saints struggled to cope with his movement and pace. He was extremely unlucky not to add to his solitary goal of the game, especially with that lovely back heel attempt. Rating: 8.5.

 

Mane - back on the right for the first half and never really got into the game in the way he has been lately. When things returned to normal in the second half, he was much better, but still the quietest of the front three. Rating: 7.

 

Firmino - so good to have him back in the team, though playing on the left in the first half does not entirely suit his talents. As usual though, he can be relied upon to give everything, cause hassle, link up play and be everywhere and anywhere. The team dynamic just seems more fluid when he is playing. Rating: 8.

 

Subs:

Milner - surprisingly brought on at half time in place of Shaqiri as Klopp went back to his usual system. It worked well and completely closed the game out. Milner is currently player of the season and playing like a player at the top of his game. Rating: 8.5.

Gomez - came on for the injured van Dijk in the 55th minute and the team never missed a beat. He showed real pace and power to really stand out. LFC has a gem on their hands with him. Rating: 7.5.

Keita - replaced Wijnaldum in the 70th minute. Links up play really well but is not quite lighting up the game the way he managed to when at Leipzig. Rating: 7.

Written by Tris Burke September 23 2018 21:18:35

 

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