Southampton departed Anfield unfortunate after their display against the Premier League Runners Up saw them lose 2-1. Nathaniel Clyne equalized for Saints after Raheem Sterling put the hosts in front in the first half. Daniel Sturridge flicked in the Liverpool winner with 11 minutes left but Southampton could not level for a second time.
Liverpool lined up with new signings Dejan Lovern and Javi Manquillo looking to sure up the Reds defense which ultimately cost them the title last season. Southampton included several new signings after a summer of selling at St Marys: Fraser Forster starting in goal after joining from Celtic, Ryan Bertrand was at left back whilst in the attacking third Graziano Pelle and Dusan Tadic started after playing in the Eredivisie last season. Southampton started dropping deeper than expected with new manager Ronald Koeman changing the Saints tactics from previous manager Mauricio Pochettino however the passing and movement remained. The Saints defended slightly deeper not pressing the ball as high as they have done, with the defense closing up to the midfield, space was limited for Liverpool. Liverpool were known last year of exploiting space in behind opposition’s midfield with Saints adopting their tactics Sterling and Coutinho were struggling to be involved.
Southampton were containing the Liverpool threat only conceding a Sturridge shot from distance but Liverpool were finding it hard to break them down. Wanyama and Scheiderlin were breaking up possession and play from the home side as Southampton began to grow in the game. The deadlock was broken after 23 minutes, Henderson robbed Tadic of possession and evaded a challenge from Wanyama. The England midfielder played a brilliant left footed through ball to Sterling who had glided in from his left sided berth, the attacking midfielder took once touch and calmly slotted the ball home. Liverpool were ahead but not at their best, Southampton weathered the next 5 minutes and James Ward-Prowse began to grow in his impact on the match. The England U21 midfielder has impressed for both club and country and went close when his over hit free kick had to be tipped over by Mignolet. Bertrand was playing well down the left linking up with Tadic which looks like a shrewd bit of business from the south coast club. Selling Shaw for 28 million whilst signing Bertrand on loan for the season from Chelsea.
Southampton went close on stroke of half time through Scheiderlin but Liverpool had the advantage at half time, the Saints continued in the second half finding spaces in the attacking third. Southampton deservedly leveled on 56 minutes; Clyne played a 1 2 with Tadic who neatly back heeled past the ex Saints defender, Lovern. Clyne ran onto the ball and powerfully struck the ball past Mignolet to level the scores. Southampton did not let off in their play with same combination nearly paying dividends but a last ditch tackle prevented it. The guilt edge chance for Southampton came after neat play between Ward-Prowse and Tadic enabled the England midfielder to play in Steven Davis on the edge of the box but he can only shoot straight at Mignolet.
A chance that the Saints were made to regret in the last stages of the match after the ball was played into the Saints box Sterling nodded down for Sturridge who drifted off of Clyne and glanced the ball home in the far post. A goal which Liverpool did not deserve in their second half performance only forcing Forster into one save. Southampton were encouraged by their performance and went on the attack again going agonizingly close through Scheiderlin and new signing Long. The ball fell to Scheiderlin on the edge of the box and he unleashed a left foot shot which Mignolet touched onto the bar before Long nodded the rebound wide. Liverpool managed to hang on to the points but will need to improve if they are to replicate last season form.
Everyone had written of Southampton after the selling’s they had done in the summer but after this performance Saints’s fan will be encouraged by their team. Although losing Lambert, Lallana, Shaw and Lovern is a major blow, Southampton have recruited well and may need to sign a few more but the display at Anfield was very good. Wanyama broke up Liverpool’s play and was a rock in central midfield whilst James Ward-Prowse has a big season ahead of him playing at the heart of Southampton attacking midfield. Liverpool missed Luis Suarez but what team wouldn’t, in a game of few chances Suarez has that skill and quality to carve out a half chance out of almost anything. Liverpool may to another striker to replace the goals that were vacated by Suarez. Sterling, Suarez and Coutinho will have big seasons between them to show that they can perform at a high level for more than one season. Although Southampton lost, they have a lot of confidence and potential to show.