Liverpool Home Lost 1 – 3
Ings wasn’t allowed to face Liverpool; how unfortunate that the two fixtures against his owners should coincide with rare periods of fitness. That meant a recall for Long, while Vestergaard had recovered from injury to allow Ralph to revert to his three centre back line-up. The coach keeps saying that he prefers 4-4-2, but we don’t often play that way, and the team seems more comfortable with the extra defender. Comfortable is not what the visitors were feeling in the opening exchanges, falling behind within ten minutes when no-one tracked Højbjerg as he headed on Bertrand’s cross, over Robertson and onto Long who could hardly miss. Long’s industry always impresses, but missing is what he does most in front of goal and an easy chance to double the lead soon went begging – the ball eventually struck over the bar by Van Djik in a close call for what would have been a most popular own goal. It couldn’t go on like that against the title hopefuls and it wasn’t really a surprise when they equalised before half time, but there was an element of controversy as early in the build up Saleh ran on to cross from the right from a position which the all-seeing eye of the TV cameras showed to be offside, and although close, it did look dodgy at the time. As play continued, Alexander-Arnold was able to put in another right wing cross, met firmly by Keita who scored despite Gunn’s valiant attempts to claw the ball around the post. Liverpool ended up with 67% possession, but Saints don’t always mind that at home to the top clubs, and the visitors were finding it difficult to get past a well-organised team – you had to be thinking of a creditable draw (at least!) when the clock ticked round to 80. Unfortunately at that point we managed to concede on the break, and as this bore a similarity to West Ham’s winner earlier in Ralph’s reign, it had to be preventable. In both cases, a midfielder attempted a shot with much of the team in front of him after a corner, and when the effort was blocked, we were in trouble. In this case Saleh led the break and went on to finish with some style, and then celebrate wildly in relief at probably securing a vital win as well as ending a mini personal goal drought. I don’t suppose many expected Saints to rescue anything from the game, and the task was certainly beyond them a couple of minutes later when Henderson took advantage of some tired looking defending to score from close range.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond. His performances playing Ralph-ball won’t have gone unnoticed, and it was particularly unfortunate that he should play well in front of Anfield’s ever predatory scouts.