Fonte and Lovren look on. Suarez is about to tear them a new one.
A genuine title contender has arrived at St Mary’s in the shape of
Liverpool which isn’t a sentence I
thought I’d be writing at the start of the season. I don’t get it really as Brendan Rodgers signed
a load of players in the summer who have turned out to be subs and aside from
Mignolet in goal, every player in the starting XI was there last season. This season though they’ve been smashing in
goals all over the place with Suarez and Sturridge proving to be quite scary up
front, ably supported by Coutinho and Sterling
in midfield. On paper, the back 4 still
looks ropey as Johnson, Skrtel and Agger are still in it with Johnson out of
position on the left and the right back being John Flanagan, a kid who seems to
produce one potential leg breaking moment of madness every time I see him on
the highlights of Liverpool’s latest win. Central to it all though is Steven Gerrard
who is still a fantastic player with massive influence, especially over judges
and jury’s. Undoubtedly helped by not being
in Europe, Liverpool are closer to the top of the league than I remember them
being in the last 20 years so it isn’t going to be easy today, especially as
they won’t need reminding that we’re the only team to beat them at Anfield this
The main Saints news of the week is of course that Uncle Roy has announced his latest England squad and Sir Rickie, J-Rod, Adam Lallana have made the cut again, as has Luke Shaw for the first time. It’s a stretch to imagine Luke ousting Ashley Cole for the forthcoming World Cup but I guess he has a better chance than he had a week ago. . Adam Lallana must be almost on the plane by now and Sir Rickie will be encouraged that Andy Carroll was left out. J-Rod needs to get on the pitch on Wednesday and if he does, he needs something big to happen. With 30 players in the squad all trying to get on the pitch on Wednesday, I guess training might be a bit competitive as well.
Meanwhile, we need something big to happen today and Dejan Lovren is back after 6 weeks out. Otherwise the team is as expected with Calum Chambers again preferred to Nathaniel Clyne and the bench containing Big Vic, Gaston and Maya. Rodgers has paid Saints a bit of a complement by leaving out
and picking Joe Allen instead. He got
destroyed in the game down here last year and was off at half time. Interestingly, when we won this fixture last
year, Sturridge was left out and when we won at Anfield this year, Suarez was
still banned for cannibalism and Coutinho was injured. I have a feeling that facing the two strikers
may make this one rather more difficult.
I would have turned up for 3pm if my wife hadn’t noticed yesterday that it was a later one so here we are, 5.30 – another traditional BT Sport bollocks kick off time and away we go with Liverpool playing in one of the worst kits I have ever seen in my life. It kind of looks like bird shit if the bird in question has been eating berries. It’s purple with white and gold splats and looks like it was designed by a blind man, assisted by a two year old. Regardless of how bird shit they look,
Liverpool start at 100mph and we are a
Trabant in first gear. They didn’t look
up for it last year but they certainly do this year and the first real danger
comes on 6 minutes as a misplaced pass up front gifts the bird shits the ball
with Shaw committed forward and Sturridge is away down our left. Remarkably, he defies his reputation as a
greedy bastard by sliding a ball across just in front of Hannibal Lechter but
Jose Fonte just about gets a toe on it to put it out for a corner.
Saints seem to have one tactic in the event of not being able to pass it through midfield which involves playing it back to King Artur who then chips up a ball for Shaw to compete for to flick on. He manages it the first time and from the second, Flanagan comes in late and clatters him in the air. It really should be a booking for the little thug but no danger of that as we don’t even get a free kick as the ball went on to J-Rod who ran at the defence, only for Skrtel to smash it off him for a goal kick.
We finally have a decent move when Steve Davis runs all over a dawdling Allen and wins the ball, eventually sending a ball through to Lallana in the box and he’s taken out by Flanagan. At the time I thought nothing of it really but when you see the replay, Flanagan just runs straight into him and takes him out without any interest in where the ball is. Would it have been given to a
player at Anfield? You betcha.
Saints are more in control now and have at least got into the same gear as
Liverpool for now. As a supporter I’d rached the point where I
could relax a tiny bit and enjoy the game but as usual, it then went
won a throw just in our half and this was taken quickly and thrown directly
forward to Suarez and then it was panic stations. He tore towards our box and tried to play a
1-2 with Sturridge but Corky and a
scrambling Fonte did the job for him as he fell over and the ball rebounded
back to Hannibal
off Jose’s knee. Bang, 1-0 without even
breaking stride. Brilliant finish by the
little bastard. Oh and what a surprise,
Scousers all over the ground in the Home areas who can’t keep their fucking
mouth shut. Never mind lads, you can
start your trip home to the outskirts of Southampton
early. Back to the actual goal and aside
from the finish, another thing to admire about the goal was the quick throw and
the carnage it caused. You know for a fact
that we’d have thrown it backwards and passed it about the back 4 and maybe
even back to the keeper.
Going 1-0 down has definitely seen us up it and we’re stopping
Liverpool getting out of their half
and their back 4 is looking as shaky as you’d expect when put under
pressure. None of them are comfortable
on the ball but Skrtel is not in the team to play silky football, he’s in it to
kick and head everything and frighten children who are afraid of Frankenstein. Johnson in particular looks like a fish up a
tree on the left and it’s from that wing that J-Rod fires in a cross, Sir
Rickie expertly chest it down into the path of Adam Lallana who rolls it past
Mignolet and then has to watch it hit the inside of the post and bounce
straight back out.
We create a half-opening with Morgan lashing one over the bar and a few minutes later and Shaw makes a great run down the left and fires over a low cross, a step over from Sir Rickioe and J-Rod has a free shot which he sidefoots in the direction that Mignolet has come from but too close to him and the keeper manages to stick out a hand and save it. Fuuuuuuck! The rest of the half is fairly even and it livened up by some class arm waving from Sturridge when he doesn’t get the pass he wanted. I’m guessing that his team mates don’t mind as long as he’s scoring goals.
So 1-0 down at half time and time once again to listen to the people behind me moaning that they can’t sit in the Family Stand next year, all down to the unreasonable rule that you have to have a child of some description. I feel like Andy Townsend during one of his legendary ‘expert’ analysis sessions in ITV when I say that the next goal is somewhat important. If we don’t get it then we will be somewhat fucked. Andy doesn’t say bad words like that, in fact he doesn’t say anything interesting or controversial at all.
Mauricio has decided that he’s going to go for it and Steven Davis is off at half time to be replaced with Gaston Ramirez in a move that will almost certainly result in a goal in one net or the other as we will have more attacking threat but be more open down the left hand side which is where Gaston’s fellow Uruguayan Hannibal Lechter is playing.
And Gaston is on fire as the second half starts and drifts effortlessly past players and fires in a shot which hits Skrtel and deflects for a corner. We create a few more half chances as we dominate the opening exchanges and one decent move ends with Lallana scuffing an effort straight at Mignolet. Lallana is involved in the next incident as we have some shite refereeing as Flanagan is allowed to go trashing through the back of the Saints skipper but as the ref doesn’t give it, Adam then flies straight at Flanagan the next time he gets it. No harm done I guess.
Brendan Rodgers tries to get the initiative back and replaces the anonymous Coutinho with Raheem Sterling who has also been called up to the
squad. From the very next move, Suarez
gets down the inside right channel after a perfectly weighted ball from
Gerrard, crosses to Sterling who plays it back the way it came and past King
Artur to make it 2-0 with his first touch.
Ah shit! I somehow feel that this
one is over.
We respond to going 2-0 down with nothing much. The players definitely have a air of knowing that this game is gone and there is nothing going on going forward with the wrong option being chosen most of the time. J-Rod turns and squirts a cross straight to Mignolet from a tight angle when he should have just played a 10 yard ball to Chambers who had busted a gut to get up and support. It’s all getting a bit frustrating.
We try something different by pissing about in our half, Fonte losing the ball and tsparking a chain of events which ends in
sidefooting a sitter over the bar in really shit fashion from 10 yards. Anything Jose can do, Dejan can do as well as
he loses it to Suarez who races forward and feeds Sturridge who is forced wide
by King Artur before trying a shot from a stupid angle which went out for a
throw in on the other side. The midfield
is losing grip as well now and Steven Gerrard is allowed to advance
unchallenged to within 20 yards and his shot is going in the bottom corner
before King Artur gets across and makes a decent save to tip it round the
post. It’s not over yet though as Hannibal tries a shot
from the corner and The King has to be alert again to throw himself forward and
get something on it. Suarez is
undoubtedly a little bastard but this is a master class we’re watching here.
With 15 to go it’s time to give some game time (I hate that phrase) to the big men and Big Sam and Big Vic come on for Sir Rickie and Corky. Big Vic is straight into the action, getting caught in possession and then fouling the bloke who took it off him. The next time he gets the ball he pings a great ball out to J-Rod and the next time he’s involved he trashes through Suarez which is quite amusing. He gets booked and Suarez gets to do that comedy limp that he’s so good at. It’s a bit like slow motion version of Kevin Nolan’s chicken dance. 30 seconds later and he’s sprinting after a ball. Great player but an arsehole.
Rodgers decides to try out one of his summer purchases and removes Sturridge who manages to sulk off the pitch without waving his arms about and complaining as he lost to chance to break some record or another of scoring in his last 9 games or something. Aspas is on and I predict he will do nothing and be loaned to a mid-table Spanish club in the summer.
As we reach the end of the game there is just time for
to torment us once more as he gets 1v1 against Jose. He gets into the box and lures Jose into
sticking his leg out and Suarez runs into it and goes down. He’s definitely bought it but no one can be
arsed to complain too much. I bet
Sturridge wishes he was still on now but he’d still have to get the ball off of
Gerrard who steps up and lashes a perfect penalty into the top corner. We kick off and the great comeback is on….
But the game ends, robbing us of the chance to make it happen. Bloody referee.
It’s a tale of finishing first and foremost. The Suarez goal was an almost identical chance to the Lallana shot that hit the post and the
Sterling finish was exactly what J-Rod should have done
when Mignolet made the save. Two chances
each, two goals for them, none for us.
At 2-0 the game was completely done and Liverpool
really should have scored more in that last half an hour. Make no mistake, Liverpool
were very good but we weren’t too bad. I
feel we were a bit tactically naïve today and this was echoed by Gerrard in his
post match interview where he basically said that he can’t believe we left
Dejan and Jose to defend against Suarez and Sturridge on their own. He has a point as with Chambers and Shaw
flying forward, we really needed either them to rein it in or for a midfielder
to drop in.
Talking of finishing.... we have one good finisher at the club and he’s currently spending too much time outside the box. The amount of times that Sir Rickie gets the ball with his back to goal, lays it out to Shaw or Chambers and is then out on the wing when the cross is delivered is really not helping us much. J-Rod and Adam have many qualities of course but consistent finishing is not one of them.
You need to take your chances against the decent sides and we didn’t today. We played well in the period of time between the two relevant
Liverpool goals but didn’t capitalize. It has to be said
though that if Suarez played for us and not them then we would have won
today. He makes that much of a
difference. I thought the rest of the Liverpool side was functional at best with plenty of
non-football at the back and some anonymous performances elsewhere but make no
mistake, they deserved to win. I can’t
see them overhauling City and Chelsea
and actually winning it but they’re up to second now so why not. Good luck to them and at least they have a
few English players.
Roy Hodgson’s trip to St Mary’s would have produced mixed results for our
England contingent. Adam Lallana would have impressed yet again
in the way he manoeuvred the ball and is so comfortable in possession. England need players like this, big
time. Luke Shaw produced some great runs
in the second half but was shocking at the start. Sir Rickie had a couple of moments and some
nice touches but as I said before, did a lot of work too far from the opposition
goal. J-Rod had a shocker I’m afraid and
never looked like he really knew what he was doing when he had the ball. The English Liverpool boys were of course led
by Steven Gerrard and Sterling
had instant impact from the bench. I’m
not sure that Henderson or Sturridge gave a performance to impress anyone much
though both of course have had excellent seasons so far. Glenn Johnson only has the fact he was out of
position as a defence.
So, it’s 3 defeats in a row for us and next week we have
away which will
not be easy. They’re transformed from
the Wurzel Holloway led outfit who we comfortably beat at St Mary’s and have
signed some decent players, including of course, Jason Puncheon who will
probably score against us and take a shit.
He shits where he wants you know. Pulis