Liverpool extended their faultless start to the Premier League season with a comfortable 3-0 victory over a pretty mediocre Southampton side. Goals from Joel Matip and Mohamed Salah as well as an own goal from Wesley Hoedt meant that the Reds moved back to the top of the table, overtaking Chelsea who will look to continue their perfect start against West Ham United tomorrow afternoon.
Fresh off the back of a brilliant win mid week against Paris Saint Germain and with this being our ‘easiest’ game in this tough run of fixtures there was room for Jurgen Klopp to make some changes to his starting 11. This meant a full debut for Xherdan Shaqiri in place of James MIlner and a return to the line up for Joel Matip who stood in for Joe Gomez in the heart of our defence.
Matip was a surprise due to the increasing success of the Gomez/Van Dijk partnership in recent weeks. That Shaqiri came in wasn’t particularly shocking, given Klopp’s comments on him before the game, but that he was replacing James Milner who has been arguably our best player this season was slightly baffling. It seems Klopp might see a future for Shaqiri in our midfield rather than on one of the wings (a position fairly locked down by Salah and Sadio Mane).
Both tactical decision seemed to pay off relatively quickly. The opening goal involved a nice turn from tactical decision number one (Shaqiri) on the left side of the area and his shot ricocheted off a few players before being unflatteringly bundled past the desperate arms of Alex McCarthy by centre back Wesley Hoedt. It was a fairly comical goal to start but they all count.
Tactical decision number 2 (Matip) was the direct source of the second Liverpool goal as he managed to get his head to a brilliant corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold and fired a fantastic header in to the top left corner of the Southampton goal.
These two goals, both stemming from changes made to the starting line up, are signs that despite what some strange people might think; Jurgen Klopp does indeed know what he is doing.
We created plenty of chances during the game but there always seemed to be that one decision from our players or one good bit of tackling from the Saints players that seemed to stop us in our tracks. Salah especially got himself in plenty of good positions only to be thwarted. You felt a goal would have to be put on a plate for him to find the net.
Enter tactical decision number one.
When we won a free kick about 25 yards from goal you would be forgiven for not being too excited by the prospect. We haven’t exactly been clinical from free kicks this season. But this time Shaqiri was playing. His vicious free kick rattled the crossbar, bounced off the floor and sat up nicely for the on-rushing Mohamed Salah to poke home.
It was a tap in, opportunism at it’s Gabriel-Jesus-finest. But it will have been just what our number 11 needed to get his confidence back for the run of games we have coming up.
From that moment on we more of less put everything on auto-pilot. Sure we could have scored more goals but where’s the fun in that?
The only issue with today was the injury to Virgil van Dijk. He started struggling on about the 52nd minute and was nursing his rib all the way until the 55th minute when he was finally taken off for Joe Gomez. It’s a worrying injury as he has been a colossus this season. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. Gomez came in and was as brilliant as he’s been all season, if he doesn’t establish himself as one of England’s first choice centre backs by the end of this season I will be shocked.
6 wins out of 6 in the Premier League and 7/7 in all competitions. This is the first time that Liverpool has ever accomplished this in all it’s history. Quite an exciting stat if you’re a Red. Now on to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday, up the Reds!