After the draw against Plymouth Argyle Liverpool now have a busy January, this time travelling to the South-coast for the first of two legs in the League Cup Semi-final against Southampton. Travelling with the knowledge they actually have a positive record in semi-final first legs, having won nine of 16 ties. Liverpool knew after such a disappointing draw on Sunday they needed a strong performance at St. Mary’s. As expected Jurgen Klopp returned with a more experienced, established team where he made eight changes.
Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge were named in attack, while Philippe Coutinho took his place on the substitutes’ bench after recovering from a long-term ankle injury, giving Liverpool a big boost in reserve.
It wasn’t the result we all had expected. In fact none of the game was as we expected. No width up front, sadly missing Sadio Mane or even an alternative to him. Such an odd game that Loris Karius was in fact our man of the match!!
- Southampton 1-0 Liverpool
- Coutinho on the bench after injury since November,
- Redmond puts Southampton ahead.
- Klopp turns to Coutinho to salvage second half.
- Few chances of merit produced by either side.
- Reds now must overturn the deficit at Anfield on January 25.
- Liverpool reduced to shooting from distance with Firmino and Clyne having long-range shots blocked.
Southampton sat back for large periods of the game – just like many teams have now this season. This meant Liverpool were forced to try something different, sadly with Coutinho on the bench at times they lacked creativity.
A clever lob by Emre Can on the edge of the box, saw an unorthodox knock-down from Adam Lallana, who set-up Firmino, unfortunately Fraser Forster denied a well worked goal from close range.
Southampton’s game plan
As Liverpool have experienced this season, they are playing against well-drilled defensive units. Southampton sat back absorbing the pressure, allowing Liverpool to play in front and around them. In the hope to attack on the the break. Loris Karius made a very clever save with his left foot denying Nathan Redmond initially – this must have really boosted his confidence and you could sense that he was an extra foot tall!! Unfortunately for Karius, an error from Ragnar Klavan let in Nathan Redmond who made it 1-0 to the Saints. Nathan Redmond had not scored in 16 games, however found a way to score against Liverpool. You have to question how Matip would have reacted – if not Matip a player at his standard. Not taking anything from Klavan, he has had some good games recently, but you do wonder.
Throughout the rest of the first half Southampton remained the most threatening side. Who’d have thought two months ago it would have been the excellent goalkeeping from Karius that actually kept us in the game. Karius’s one-handed save from Redmond right on half-time, suddenly we all saw what Klopp knew – Karius is actually good!!
Second half to salvage a terrible first
Liverpool were visibly shaken after their poor first half. Sadly they began the second where they finished the first, struggling to break down the Southampton defence and not looking confident when their opponents pushed forward.
A frustrated Klopp paraded the techical area. Scratching his head, frustrated the drills on the training field weren’t coming off. This prompted Klopp to bring on his talisman Coutinho to provide a bit of inspitation. He had 30 minutes to turn the game around, at the very least it would allow him some game time before the crunch 6-pointer at Old Trafford.
The Brazilian replaced Wijnaldum and troubled the Southampton defence immediately, dribbling through and winning a corner. Just like sunday against Plymouth, it was yet another corner that came to nothing.
Lovren blocked an effort from Redmond on the goal-line after an unfortunate slip from Lucas Leiva.
Divock Origi came on to provide an additional threat and much needed support for Sturridge. A change of formation, which via a note from Klopp was almost too little too late. Twitter exploded with suggestions as to what the note would be saying. Eventually the message got through to them.
End of Part I
Part I ended 1-0 to Southampton.
We have another attempt on the 25th to get it right. A deficit of one goal can easily be overturned. On our day we are a more cohesive unit that last season. Last season we overturned Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal. We can do the same against Southampton.
Not taking anything from Southampton. But we have title aspirations, we want to become the best. We have the ability to do exactly that.
It’s going to be a big night at Anfield. 1 thing we can all guarantee is that Klopp will be orchestrating the crowd. The Kop will be singing his tune – they have to. But more importantly the players will also have to.
What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.
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