It’d be pretty easy to argue that Liverpool missed a real chance to exert their dominance at the top of the table after running out a goalless draw with Southampton at St Mary’s earlier today, but considering the amount of football that’s left to be played and the fact that we’ve stayed top despite “dropping two points” to a “team we should have beaten”, you’d sound pretty silly if you argued too hard.
Looking leggy in the first and dominant in the second, it’d also be easy to say that the Reds would have won if they’d just took one of their chances — and you wouldn’t be wrong at all. Having kept their hosts from registering a single shot on net throughout the 90-minutes, the Saint’s game plan was simple in containing Jurgen Klopp’s high pressing side and taking whatever chances they could conjure up.
And, really, they only had one of those with the tireless Charlie Austin heading just wide after Cedric Soares whipped in a tasty cross, but the Englishman was unable to trouble Loris Karius or punish the visitors for their multitude of missed opportunities.
“We could have scored and maybe we should have scored – but that’s how football is,” mused Klopp, in a philosophical mood following the final whistle. “And very often in my life, I lost games like these, when we were so much better and had many more chances. We didn’t because we stayed concentrated and that’s very important, maybe the most important thing for us,” added the German manager. “Everybody could see already this season that on a very good day, we are able to score fantastic goals. But today it was much more difficult because of different reasons. Even then, to stay in the game is the best news we can get. I’m not ‘happy’, but I’m fine.”
Having expanded on his admiration for the Saints prior to the trip to St. Mary’s Stadium, it’s not at all surprising that the Reds boss is content with the point having seen his side drop a two goal lead to leave town with nothing the last time he was here, but in all fairness, it could have been so much better. Sadio Mane, who has shone so bright in this fixture in the past, was denied a goal on his first trip back to the South Coast with a combination of Southampton ‘keeper Fraser Forster and towering defender Virgil van Dijk keeping the pacy attacker off the score-sheet. The usually reliable Roberto Firmino missed his fair share and another former Saint in Nathaniel Clyne came within inches of being in the headlines when he got on the end of Daniel Sturridge’s sumptuous cross to the back post, but like his compatriot in Austin, he couldn’t steer his header on target.
A quick recap only re-enforces the notion of two-points dropped, but that, of course, makes the mistake of completely downplaying the steadfast and well organized barrier that Southampton put up in face of mounting pressure from the league leaders. The results may not be there quite yet, but Claude Puel has this side whipped in to shape with the likes of Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu, defender Ryan Bertrand, the wholly impressive van Dijk’s defensive partner in Jose Fonte and Norwich City transplant Nathan Redmond all putting in a serious shift to stifle the heavily favoured Reds.
That might not be what you want to hear and it might not buy in to the two-points dropped notion, but it’s a clean sheet away from home against a team that’s on the up. It’s late November, we’re actually in the mix at the top of the table and have a completely winnable run of games leading up to the Merseyside Derby this time next month — take a breath, have a pint and enjoy your Saturday night. All’s still well in Liverpool land…