Liverpool Home Lost 1 – 2
The Saints are staying up! Nevertheless, a full house was reported for a mathematically unimportant next game after the efforts of others had made certain 40 points was enough. Of course there were other reasons for a big crowd, although visitors Liverpool could only lose the title race at St. Mary’s, not win it. Manchester City’s weekend point was said to have ruled goal difference out of the equation, which might have been seen as a good thing by pessimistic home fans; a bad thing by optimistic ones hoping to see gung-ho visitors picked off by a savvy Saints team. Under an improbable set of circumstances, Klopp’s team could still have improved their prospects with something approaching a double-digit win, but the German clearly didn’t see it that way as he made nine changes to his Cup Final line-up, while Ralph went with his trusted red-and-white-wall approach against illustrious opponents – when he goes off script (e.g. Chelsea at home), things can get ugly. There were a few surprises in the set-up, though, with Redmond more or less operating at left back; maybe it didn’t look quite like that on the blackboard, and Redmond was given licence to get forward when he could, as in the 14th minute, cutting inside to unleash a right foot shot that may or may not have taken a touch off Milner on its way in for a fine goal. That wasn’t supposed to happen and McCarthy, in for the injured Forster, was soon beaten by Firmino’s header from a free kick, but clearly from an offside position as well. McCarthy can always let us down, but it would be difficult (although not impossible) to blame him for the equaliser from our old friend Minamino, beaten by a powerful near post shot. Our defensive approach isn’t popular with everyone but it was working well enough against this scratch Liverpool team to cause Henderson to be introduced at the break. We were approaching the time when push had to change to a greater shove for Herr Klopp when he suddenly got lucky with a go-ahead goal headed in almost involuntarily by Matip when a clearance from a corner went straight to him and sailed into the top corner. On came Romeu (who should have started) for Diallo (who shouldn’t have) and Adams for Broja, but it’s difficult to change tactics mid-half, especially against a team who won’t let you have the ball. Eventually Southampton managed a spirited finish that might have caused hearts to beat faster in parts of Manchester as well as hotbeds of Reds’ support like the Home Counties and China. Unfortunately an equaliser to round off the home season was not to be and I rather suspect the team’s ‘lap of honour ‘ took place in front of a mostly empty stadium.
LSSC Man of the Match: Nathan Redmond. Might just as easily have been Lyanco who could claim an assist in Redmond’s goal.