Liverpool 2-1 Saints
With the exception of that bit of bother concerning administration, it’s surely been the most traumatic summer any Saints fan can recall! Just treat the transfer dealings as a reminder that when players appear to kiss the club badge on their shirts, they’re really looking for the sponsors’ logo, and let’s march on with players who really want to be here.
For all that, though, there was a huge irony that the fixture list should throw up
Southampton reserves Liverpool as our first opponents. In came Forster, Bertrand, Tadic and Pelle for debuts, with Long and Taidir waiting on the bench but Boruc nowhere to be seen, perhaps having thrown his toys out of the pram as well. Schneiderlin, meanwhile, had regained sufficient mental strength to play, or maybe he remembered that a TV game is a big shop window.
Life gets very complicated in the Premier League, but at least there was Lovren out there as the pantomime villain for the visiting support, who booed his every touch. He wouldn’t have been too bothered when Henderson fed Sterling who sped between Clyne and Fonte for the opening goal: excellent execution by the home side, but it’s what Sterling does on a regular basis, and we should have been alert to that. However, Saints weren’t going to be rolled over, although it was difficult to see where the goals were going to come from until Mignolet saved from Schneiderlin just before the break.
That must have given the team confidence as they looked more penetrative in the second half and fully deserved their equaliser, finished emphatically by Clyne after the neatest of backheels from Tadic. Southampton were now on top, and should have taken the lead when more slick passing close to goal set up Davis with enough time for him to start thinking about his goal celebration – unfortunately a tame shot let Mignolet save easily instead. Lovren was still getting stick, but Reds substitute Lambert was introduced to a fulsome welcome from the Saints faithful who were in danger of getting their priorities wrong, and Long came on for Tadic who shook hands with a bemused Mr. Clattenburg on his way off – the referee probably reflecting that he never received the same level of courtesy from Lallana.
Time was on our side until Sturridge proved more alert than Clyne as the defence struggled to clear a succession of crosses and he was able to score what proved to be a late winner. It very nearly wasn’t though, as Mignolet again denied Schneiderlin, this time touching a powerful shot onto the bar while Long failed to find the target with the rebound.
LSSC Man of the Match: Victor Wanyama, although you shudder at the consequences for all concerned if he mistimes one of his solid challenges.