Liverpool vs Southampton: Liverpool unable to break down defensive Saints

Match Report

Liverpool were back at Anfield after scraping past Watford at Vicarage Road. The Reds were hoping to break this Southampton defence, something they have been unable to do so in the last three meetings.

Klopp named the same XI that played against Watford. There was some surprise to see no Adam Lallana in the starting lineup, which is something that most fans were hoping for. As for the Saints, they had set out for a point, playing with four at the back with five in the middle.

Claude Puel had never lost a game to Liverpool, which included his time with Lyon where he brushed the Reds aside over two legs in the Champions League. It was no different this time around as his side were very negative and Liverpool were unable to create any clear-cut chances.

The first chance of the game came in the 15th minute when Romeu was caught in possession on the edge of the area by Firmino, who worked it into a shooting position with a couple of touches. He attempted to guide the ball into the far corner but Yoshida got back to make an important block.

It remained goalless until the break and it seemed like Liverpool lacked ideas in attack to penetrate the Southampton back line.

Two minutes into the second half  Can made an important block, after a long throw to the feet of Serbian midfielder Tadic was controlled and spun into the middle. Matip’s touch was loose and Boufal pounced and looked sure to have a chance to shoot from inside the six yard box until Can slid in to concede a corner.

In the 60th minute, Puel made the first switch of the game as he brought off Boufal for Redmond.

It was getting more and more frustrating for the fans. Lucas launched a ball into the box which Origi controlled on his chest under pressure from Stephens. The ball looped up and Stephens caught it with his elbow as he spun to get back into position. A herd of Liverpool players protested before the referee, Bobby Madly, awarded them a penalty. James Milner stepped up as a couple of Saints players got booked for gamesmanship. Milner put power to his penalty but it was saved heroically by Fraser Forster with a strong right hand.

Klopp sprung the changes as Lallana and Sturridge came on for Lucas and Origi to throw the kitchen sink at Southampton. Meanwhile, Puel also made a change as League Cup hero Shane Long replaced Gabbiadini.

Both the substitutes linked up in the 76th minute, as Lallana released Sturridge who found Coutinho outside the box. The Brazilian looked to curl one in but was easily gathered by Fraser Forster.

The Liverpool attack didn’t as just couple of minutes later Firmino came in from the right to feed Lallana, who played it first time in for Sturridge. He beat Ward-Prowse and Stephens but had to stretch for a toe poke that Foster was equal to.

Klopp had to play his final roll of a dice when Grujic came on for Wijnaldum as Liverpool were desperate to collect all three points.

Liverpool were caught out at the other end when Mignolet had to rush off his line to deal with a bouncing ball. He may have handed the ball outside the box but was saved as none of the officials saw him.

Very late on Forster pulled out another great save when Milner delivered a quality ball which was headed on by Grujic. It took an excellent point blank save from Forster to rescue a point for the Saints.

The final whistle soon followed as Liverpool continued to not being able to beat one of the teams who set out to defend. This may be a setback in their Champions League ambitions, although Arsenal beating Manchester United means that a top four spot is still Liverpool’s hands.