Liverpool Away Lost 3 – 0
The international break still didn’t give Lemina enough time to get fit again, but the side at Liverpool went about doing what they do best without him – and what they do well is make it very difficult for the other team without necessarily having much of the ball themselves. An alarm when a deflection fell nicely for Alexander-Arnold was eventually cleared in an undignified manner, but the home side were being kept at bay, much as they had been kept goal-less in four encounters last season. Then after half an hour, Tadić’s belief in his own ability outreached his actual skills on the pitch, and after he lost possession in a dangerous area, the ball was played to Salah whose finish was impressive – but the whole situation was preventable. Southampton were again the architects of their own downfall when Salah struck once more before the break, Hoedt apparently failing to cover his run, but the wider view from TV cameras shows Van Dijk playing his own game somewhere out of his place in the back four, and probably not endearing himself to potential suitors come January. Van Dijk was involved in the first half’s final action at the other end when he was hurt by a bad tackle by Lovren who won’t need another international defender arriving on Merseyside after Gomez has made such a good start to his England career. Bertrand’s free kick was a lot closer to goal than anyone expected, but it did not call Mignolet into action, and neither did Boufal just after the break with comfortably Southampton’s best chance from open play. It had long seemed likely that Saints would not manage a shot on target, and so it proved, despite this being one of Long’s lucky grounds – one of his four goals in 2017 came there. The usual exchange of substitutions never looked like changing things: Tadić, Long and Boufal off, Austin, Ward-Prowse and Gabbiadini on. It was more a question of how many goals would go in at the other end; only one as it happens, after a good turn by Firmino gave him space for a shot which seemed to hit Forster on the chest, only for the rebound to be tapped in by Coutinho.
LSSC Man of the Match: Ryan Bertrand, England’s number three (for the moment).
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