This scoreline is becoming an all too familiar sight; drawing four of their last five outings, Liverpool are still searching for their first win under new boss Jurgen Klopp as Southampton came from behind to share the spoils with their hosts.
Christian Benteke made an immediate impact after replacing compatriot Divock Origi at the half-time break and it was the big Belgian that provided the breakthrough when he thumped in a powerful header from James Milner’s sumptuous early cross with less than a quarter of an hour left to play. The Reds looked to be on course for three-points, but their fragility from set-pieces cost them yet again as Saido Mane tapped in Gaston Ramirez’s flick-on across the face of goal from James Ward-Prowse’s expertly taken free-kick less than 10-minutes later. That the Senegalese attacker was sent off for a second bookable offence in injury time made no difference as the Saint’s held on for a deserved point — le sigh.
At risk of sounding like a broken record, there were positives to be had, but not enough to push Liverpool too far beyond the drab, dullness we saw in the last days of Brendan Rodgers. Three matches in quick succession has left Klopp precious little time to work with his new side and though the overwhelming evidence is that his is a team on the up-turn, the tree still isn’t bearing fruit.
The similarities between yesterday’s meeting with Southampton and the Europa League outing against Rubin Kazan are there to be drawn — pun very much intended. A first half lacking in any real quality, possession with very little penetration, an exciting pressing game that faded as the match wore on and legs grew tired, an embarrassing inability to put a shot on target or effectively defend a set-piece, our woeful corner kicks failing to trouble anyone and high balls into the box causing us problems.
Above all else though, Daniel Sturridge’s continued injury problems remains a a massive, pointed, poison dripping thorn in our side; again, this was a match screaming out for a clinical front-man who can make runs in behind the defence — something that Origi isn’t yet able to provide and that Benteke can only do to an extent. That being said, the positives still outweigh the negatives in a match that you wouldn’t bet against this team losing quite handily if Rodgers was still at the helm.
Maybe that’s a tad harsh on the Northern Irishman, but if you’ve been here before, you know I’m not trying to be spiteful. So, much like Thursday, the narrative remains the same — change is slow, but it’s coming and when things finally click into place, it’ll be well worth the wait.