Out of a cloud of pressure came the sweet drops of triumph as Liverpool claimed all three points and sixth place in the pursuit of a top four place. Rodgers got the tactics spot on and changes were made at vital times to maintain control over the game and frustrate the home side. Countless positives can be taken from a fixture that saw Gerrard, Lucas and Sakho sidelined and where Mignolet and Skrtel gain special mention as warriors keeping Liverpool’s net empty at all times. A defensive record was broken today as Liverpool showed that keeping possession is not the only game they can play. Let’s have a look at the outcomes we can take from an outstanding away performance from our young team.
Liverpool close the gap
Yet again the youngsters Ibe, Coutinho and Sterling shone as Liverpool closed the gap on top four rivals Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, both of whom dropped points this weekend. Being three points away from third place will give the team massive encouragement going forward, especially with a busy week to come. Rodgers will have a squad that he can rotate and this is a big boost. Having 14 different goal scorers among their squad Liverpool showed that theirs is a real team effort and togetherness is key.
Defensive record at its best
Back in December who would have thought Liverpool will break a defensive record they created in 1985? Stringing together five consecutive away clean sheets gives Liverpool great confidence and a statement of intent. Today’s result shows just how far the team have come and how much progress has been made under the guidance and relentless care and attention that Rodgers gives. The only team remaining unbeaten in 2015 is Liverpool Football club. This is testament to the squad’s determination and the manager’s belief and ability.
Mignolet kept Liverpool in the game, making crucial saves and instinctive touches. His decision making is back on top form. Having faced the drop this season amid bad errors of judgement the Belgian is back stronger and proving that he is once again one of the best goal keepers in the Premier League. He made five crucial saves to Forster’s two- keeping out all of Southampton’s shots on target. Mignolet now has the second best clean sheet record in the league- is he Liverpool’s most improved player this season?
Skrtel was deservedly awarded man of the match after his vital contribution to Liverpool’s success at St Mary’s. In a defensive game the Slovak was dominant in the centre, leading the back line and being successful in all his decision making. He made 13 clearances today- making up a third of Liverpool’s tally. His blocked shots also made up just under a third of the team’s efforts. If it wasn’t for his direction, confidence and sheer commitment today Liverpool would have struggled against a side that kept knocking on the door. Skrtel is an essential part of Liverpool’s form and deserves much credit.
Possession low, passion high
Having recorded their lowest possession percentage so far this season with a share of 40% of the ball, Liverpool showed grit and a sense of purpose with what they do off the ball. Being away from home Liverpool relied on the pace and creativity of their young players, which yielded the first glorious goal from Coutinho (goal of the season from a Liverpool player?) who was rewarded for his brilliance in recent games. It was a game where the counter attack played a vital part and this is what won it for the Reds. However the change to five at the back is what ensured that even with all the possession Southampton had, they couldn’t threaten and get past the defensive line. Again, a clever tactical change from Rodgers at the right time.
Testing times call for Liverpool tenacity
Liverpool made a promising start to a tough week. Away to Besiktas on Thursday will be gruelling and there is no doubt that the team spirit and inner strength will have to be at its highest to ensure Liverpool continue their fight for a place in the much coveted Champion’s League. They have answered the critics, now it is time to challenge their own perception of how far they can go.