We couldn’t write this last night as we were too miserable, but despite the dreary performance at St. Mary’s, it’s not all bad.
Here’s five reasons why:
The performance of Loris Karius:
Heavily ridiculed at the end of 2016 and dropped from Jurgen Klopp’s first-choice starting XI, Karius put in a performance last night that actually kept us in the tie. He pulled off two excellent first half saves (seen here) and proved to any doubters that he truly does have the potential (further down the line) to be a seriously top keeper for us.
The return of our best player:
Coutinho’s fit and he’s back. With Sadio Mane at the AFCON, it couldn’t have come at a better time in truth. The Brazilian looked a little rusty, but we were still a much better side with him on the pitch, although he’ll need to hone his long range shooting after sending a couple into Row-Z from 30-yards.
We were without four key starters:
Jordan Henderson, Coutinho, Sadio Mane and Joel Matip have been four of our best five players this term along with Adam Lallana, but only the latter started the game. If you take Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar and Andres Iniesta out of Barcelona, they’re a much worse side as well. We’ll have the captain back on Sunday, and Coutinho should start as well. Mane’s at the AFCON obviously, but Matip has a chance too after returning to full training today. Our team should much stronger at Old Trafford.
The first game all season where we’ve been categorically outplayed:
Before last night, we’d lost to Burnley and Bournemouth this season, but dominated both games and should have won them easily. In games we’ve drawn, like against Spurs and Manchester United, we’ve had more of the ball and the play – but versus Southampton – we were undeniably second best. The fact it’s taken until January for ANY team to outplay us is a testament to Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, providing it’s a blip and not a signal for a season collapse.
We very much in the tie still:
Despite our shoddy outing and Southampton’s dominance, we’re probably still favourites to progress. Away goals don’t count in the EFL Cup and a one goal deficit at Anfield can be overcome, providing we come out of the blocks with intention and enthusiasm. The fact we played so poorly but only lost by one is a positive. We have Karius to thank and so long as we shape up in two weeks’ time, a Wembley date with United is still likely.