Saints Day: Southampton V Liverpool

2 points dropped, or 1 point gained?

What slant have you taken?

Even going back to the days of The Dell; Southampton away has always been a complex issue. Some of our most legendary teams tripped up in Hampshire. On other days we strolled in, kicked metaphorical chairs across the room, and turned over metaphorical tables. Sauntering back to Merseyside with a stylishly obtained 3 points.

The last time we won the title, we travelled to the south coast and suffered our biggest defeat of the season, in a 1-4 reversal. A game where a youthful Rodney Trotter look-a-like by the name of Matthew Le Tissier took us apart. *Dell Boys and Rodders you could say?

*Partly proud of myself, while simultaneously aghast to have been responsible for such a pun/observation.

So then, 2 points dropped, or 1 point gained?

A bit of both really.

We can’t possibly win every game, but Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool are capable of winning any game. So, when we don’t win, it ends up feeling like a missed opportunity.

Give it an enigmatic smile, narrow the eyes a little and take on board a lesson learned. Go out and ensure we take 3 points next time around.

Next time around it’s David Moyes in our sightlines. A man who could easily have been sacked weeks ago, but now seems to be finally finding a little bit of traction, to what have largely been spinning wheels on Wearside. Either we score early against Sunderland and win 3-0, or we labour our way to a frustrating 1-1 draw. Our opponents on Saturday will be as strikingly ‘anti-football’ as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United were when they rolled into L4 a month ago.

We’ll have to be less sluggish than we were at Southampton, to procure the easy 3 points ‘option A’ of a 3-0ish win, as opposed to the frustrating draw we’ve often conspired ourselves to at home to Sunderland, and their vast array of one-season-stand managers during the Premier League era.

We missed Adam Lallana at Southampton.

General consensus says that Lallana has grown in stature and importance to the Liverpool cause. It’s hard to argue with the sentiment, but this Liverpool is going to be about the collective, rather than the individual. We have to cope with an occasional missing component.

With Emre Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson essentially charged with doing the functional jobs within the midfield this season, we probably took to the pitch with one too many of that trio.

In effect, Can, Wijnaldum and Henderson are designed to be enablers who provide the foundation for Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino to perform upon. Lallana is basically the go between. Lallana is the intermediary. Jan Molby-esqe to a degree.

Maybe, on Saturday, we needed a partially fatigued Coutinho to play what is arguably the less mobile ‘Lallana role’ instead of the regular one he occupies, which possibly puts more energy consuming demands on his time.

Maybe, on Saturday, it should have been a Daniel Sturridge day. A goal against Scotland while on international duty. Ego massaged. Carry that into Liverpool duties. Hindsight is great.

We were a bit leaden limbed at Southampton. We created opportunities, without being ruthless when they arrived. We either patted inoffensively at our chances, or they were swatted away by Fraser Forster with saves you could reasonably place within the category of ‘that was one for the cameras’. Not one save was what you could class as a point gaining save. All stops were ones which should have been made. We never really extended Forster.

The international break did us no favours and once we find our momentum again, then we are safe within the knowledge that we won’t be stopping again until late March. If we are still where we are now, by late March, then it’s well and truly ‘game on’.

We continue to provoke uneasy sideways glances from our perceived rivals. Mourinho, in true Manchester United tradition, found time over the weekend to take his attention away from his game against Arsenal to talk all things Liverpool, as he ascertained how blessed we are at Anfield, due to the fact that we aren’t encumbered with a European campaign.

We continue to bother people.

Take that as a compliment. You don’t provoke comments like that if you aren’t doing something right. If our detractors are groping around on the floor for reasons to explain why we’re doing as well as we are, then rest assured that we are doing all the right things, and it’s something which is unsettling those detractors. It’s like watching an episode of Scooby Doo, when Velma has lost her glasses.

Saturday was all about the ex-saints amongst our on-pitch brethren. A year ago, outside the confines of Anfield, our much questioned propensity to foist massive transfer fee after massive transfer fee into the bank account of Southampton was deservedly open to question, and even derision.

Lallana, with his Joe Allen-esqe rise to deity-like levels of respect, has been added to by the improvements of Dejan Lovren, to the consistency of Nathanial Clyne, and the effervescent capabilities of Mane.

Suddenly, all those many, many millions of pounds given to Southampton don’t seem quite so ‘squandered’ as they once did. Envious eyes are being glanced at Mane, Lallana is lauded, Clyne is being mooted as a figment of Manchester City interest and Southampton fans still boo and jeer every touch of the ball by Lovren.

The big question is, who were the impressive performers in the Southampton side on Saturday, and how much will they cost us next summer? Plant your tongue in your cheek and place your bets on a move for Virgil van Dijk.


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