Liverpool extended their unbeaten run in comfortable fashion as they cruised to a 2-0 win over Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday.
The Reds took the early advantage in the game, even as Southampton continued to look the part. January signing Virgil van Dijk, who was booed by a vociferous home crowd, played his part in his side’s opener, before Mohamed Salah teed up Roberto Firmino to break the deadlock just six minutes into the game.
The hosts then dominated the proceedings for the most part, but were denied by Loris Karius on every occasion. Liverpool, though, were the more clinical side as they doubled their advantage just before half-time when Firmino set Salah up with a sublime back heel, with the Egyptian making no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Back to winning ways! 👊 pic.twitter.com/81hONY6dbc
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 11, 2018
There were no more goals to come post the break, even as Southampton continued to hog most of the possession. But, Liverpool stood strong, absorbed the pressure and ensured the win to close the gap on Manchester United to two points. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Loris Karius: 8/10
Karius has been slowly but surely solidifying his newfound status as the first-choice goalkeeper at Liverpool, and it was more of the same on Sunday. The German shot stopper made a number of saves that kept the Southampton attack at bay and helped him keep a crucial clean sheet.
— 🔴🔥AllThingsLFC🔥🔴 (@AllthingLFC) February 11, 2018
The pick of the lot was the save off Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, quickly coming off his line to stop the Dane in his tracks. Another brilliant performance for Karius, who is growing with each passing game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Alexander-Arnold got a second consecutive league start with both Joe Gomez and Nathaniel Clyne still sidelined. The youngster looked shaky defensively at times, but he soon found his feet to negate Southampton’s threat on his flank.
As always though, his true influence was on the other end of the pitch, as he showed off his passing range while also playing a part in Liverpool’s opener.
Joel Matip: 7/10
A surprise selection for many Liverpool fans after Dejan Lovren’s strong outing last week. But, Matip did well to support van Dijk, who was in no mood to let his former side get the better of him. Thus, after a sluggish start, he let little past him, while also helping in his side’s build-up play.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
He was always going to be given a hard time by the Southampton fans, and his reaction held key to his side’s fortunes on the night. Fortunately for Liverpool, van Dijk was in his elements, taking every jeer in his stride to keep things organised at the back.
Virgil van Dijk v Southampton
5 aerial duels won
82% pass accuracy
1 clean sheet
Solid 💪 pic.twitter.com/eMfgH4S6gE
— Liverpool FC News (@LivEchoLFC) February 11, 2018
What is the most pleasing aspect of van Dijk’s defending is that he is vocal at all times, talking to his teammates to react well to every situation. The Reds now need him to maintain this form to continue their march up the table.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Robertson started the game slowly, looking especially vulnerable in the early stages. But, after letting Hojbjerg through after misjudging a cross, the Scot pulled his socks up to shore up the defensive side of his game while also finding his feet going forward.
Emre Can: 6.5/10
Handed the captain’s armband for the fourth time, Can finally notched up his first win as the Liverpool skipper. His own performance though, was very blow hot blow cold. While he struck a fine bond with van Dijk behind him, the German was caught in possession a few times, in what was an otherwise largely decent outing.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
A rare positive performance on the road by Wijnaldum. The Dutchman was diligent in his defensive duties, and while he wasn’t all that adventurous going forward, he kept things neat and tidy, making very few errors to help retain possession. The wait for a first away goal continues, though.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
Another underwhelming performance by Oxlade-Chamberlain, who seems to have lost his form from January. The Englishman started the game brightly, but quickly faded as the minutes passed by, showing little calmness and composure on the ball. Needs to work hard to retain his place in the side.
Mohamed Salah: 9/10
Mohamed Salah in all competitions for Liverpool this season 🔥🔥
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) February 11, 2018
In parts of Sunday’s outing, Salah looked slightly out of sorts. But, as he has proven over the course of the season, he has the means to produce the goods even the going gets tough. At St. Mary’s, Salah put in a shift off the ball, before grabbing a goal and an assist to boost his already stunning tally for the season.
The assist was a result of some shrewd work, as he drove into the Southampton box before squaring the ball for Firmino. The goal – his 22nd in the Premier League – was superb too, as he produced a fine first-time finish to double his side’s advantage.
Roberto Firmino: 9/10
Mr. Consistent was at his best once again on Sunday, bar a few forgettable moments. He got on the score sheet early on to notch up his 20th goal of the season – his best ever tally for Liverpool. Firmino was typically tireless, working hard to put pressure on the Southampton defence.
Roberto Firmino for LFC this season:
31 goal involvements! 🇧🇷 pic.twitter.com/N8qBZJQake
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStat) February 11, 2018
The Brazilian then returned the favour for Salah, with a stunning back heel splitting the defence before the Egyptian calmly found the back of the net. Taken off early with one eye on the Porto game in the Champions League.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
Mane just continues to struggle his way into rediscovering last season’s form, but it just isn’t happening for him. His decision making continues to be poor, while his finishing isn’t much better either. Would be glad to go under the radar due to the exploits of Salah and Firmino, but it’s high time he found his form.
James Milner: 6/10
Brought on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner helped calm things down in the middle of the park, stabilising things to help see the game out efficiently and incident-free.