Liverpool Home Capital One Cup
It seems a long time ago that Mauricio Pochettino picked a full strength side for a run of the mill midweek league game and a weakened one for an important cup tie. Ronald Koeman understands the expectations of the club far better and only the injured Fonte was missing from the best side we seemed to have to face Liverpool in the League Cup. And it began so well, with Mané heading home in the first minute after clever play by Tadić and Bertrand down the left. That flank looked very promising for Saints and Wanyama and Mané also went close in an exhilarating opening that saw rookie right back Randall cautioned for the Reds. Now, though, was the time to turn off the TV highlights programme as things were about to turn decidedly ugly. Liverpool’s equaliser came on 25 minutes and looked very preventable: a long ball found Caulker ball-watching slightly, but Sturridge‘s touch was poor and surely Caulker and Stekelenburg should have done something to prevent him shooting into the bottom corner? Worryingly, Saints failed to learn from this and four minutes later another ball over the top found Soares and Caulker on different wavelengths and Sturridge free to hit an early shot that went through Stekelenburg. By now there was only one team threatening, and it wasn’t Saints. On the stroke of half time a shot by Moreno was deflected in by Origi who had been kept onside by Clasie and it could have been worse as Caulker sort of made up for his failings with a great intervention. Saints went to three at the back in a bid to turn things round, and they did look better – but also vulnerable with a defensive line of Caulker, Wanyama and poor old Virgil who saw the sort of defending he thought he had left behind in Scotland. Origi scored again with a rasping shot on 68 minutes, but again there were players who could have prevented it. That would have been a good time to revert to something more orthodox, but Mr. Koeman persisted and soon saw a fifth, and particularly poor, goal, scored by substitute Ibe. There was still plenty of time left, and with a midfield by now shorn of their best player (Davis, substituted) and the three backs continuing to struggle, an embarrassingly easy sixth goal was headed in by Origi for his hat trick and a scoreline that was… well embarrassing is the only word for it. So what went wrong? Pretty much everything after the first 40 seconds. Second half tactics didn’t help, but the limitations of the squad were cruelly exposed: the sooner we get Fonte back, the better and, longer term, the same can be said for Forster. A right back who can defend would help (not the error prone Yoshida either!) while Clasie may be fine against the likes of Sunderland, but he isn’t ready to face the Premier League’s elite. That’s blame for the goals attributed, but we could go on, based on this display.
LSSC Man of the Match: Sadio Mané, often a long way away from where things were going pear-shaped.