Liverpool Home Lost 1 – 2
Danso must have looked at the performances of the starting centre backs at Burnley and expected to force his way into the side to face Liverpool without much argument; so too would have Yoshida and it turned out that only Yoshie got the nod. With Højbjerg back to health, there was no place for Djenepo either, suggesting that Ralph is keener to blood talent from the youth teams than those expensively acquired from around Europe. The visitors returned after a prestige midweek fixture in Istanbul and we saw a sluggish Liverpool in the first half, with Saints working hard to make life difficult for them. It was important to have something to show on the scoreboard for an encouraging performance, but Adams, having edged out Ings from the first XI, couldn’t find the target with the best chance; a header from Romeu’s cross, while Adrián De Costillo had to react quickly to keep out a header by Yoshida. Despite a lack of goals, spirits in the crowd were high enough as the opening period entered added time, and with the visitors not really threatening over by the corner flag. However, that position suits Mané if he is allowed to cut inside; only Ward-Prowse seemed to spot the danger, but too late to stop a shot that gave Gunn no chance. Southampton were not at all impressive after the restart and had to rely on Firmino de Oliveira missing a very scorable opportunity to remain in contention. Ings and Armstrong were introduced to give more fire-power, although you need to get the ball first… and not give it away either. Unfortunately Bednarek didn’t obey this basic rule and lost possession to Mané who set up de Oliveira for the second time, and the Brazilian didn’t miss twice. With less than 20 minutes remaining, the points were surely heading to Merseyside, despite the belated appearance of Djenepo for an enigmatic performance on the left wing. But against all expectations, the last few minutes were enlivened when Ings, more out of duty than expectation, closed down Adrián as he attempted to deal with Van Dijk’s back pass, and then turned away in delight as the ‘keeper’s clearance bounced off him and into the net. An equaliser would have given a return from this good fortune, and Ings had the opportunity to provide it when he tried to steer Valery’s cross wide of Adrián instead of a heavier touch to attack the near post: the effort went wide and Saints were left pointless after two.
LSSC Man of the Match: Maya Yoshida. A difficult one after the front-runners were ruled out: Romeu became the first substituted player and the Bednarek fouled up (just as Yoshie often has!).