Talking Points: Southampton 0 Liverpool 2

Liverpool strolled to a straightforward victory over Southampton at St Mary’s and in doing so gained a crucial three points in the race for top four. Goals right at the start and end of the first half from Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah gave the Reds a platform from which they professionally saw out the game.

Boos do little to deter Van Dijk as his side enjoy comfortable win…

It was almost funny how many players in the Liverpool squad were ex-Southampton players, thus it was always going to be interesting to see the receptions these players would get, particularly Virgil Van Dijk. Dejan Lovren has always been booed heavily by Saints fans since his departure, and Van Dijk got the exact same treatment. The Dutchman was not affected in the slightest though, and even though he didn’t have much defending to do, he produced a performance of maturity and calmness much like he has done in his games for Jürgen Klopp’s side so far. Van Dijk and the rest of his teammates came under some pressure from the home side in the first half, but saw it off and hence gave themselves a very simple task in the second half. Wins like this are exactly what we need to see from Liverpool more often, and they are wins that winners of trophies rack up when needed. The fact that the Reds’ last two wins have both been achieved extremely professionally is very pleasing indeed.

Karius really starting to show signs of progress…

It may still very much be the case that Klopp decides to buy a new first-choice goalkeeper in summer, but for now, Loris Karius is doing everything he can to prove his doubters wrong and that he does have a future at Liverpool. Two clean sheets book-end an impressive display against Spurs and it is clear to see what a run of games and the backing of his manager is doing for Karius confidence and performance wise. Apart from one needlessly quick throw, against Saints the German made important saves from Hojbjerg and Ward-Prowse in the first half, and it was his quick distribution that led to Firmino’s opener. Karius was a bystander after the break, but by then he had done what was required of him. It feels weird to finally be able to have some confidence in a Liverpool goalkeeper again, but it is such an important position and will obviously help Liverpool’s defence massively in the long run.

Salah and Firmino shine while Mane struggles, a ridiculously familiar pattern…

Mo Salah, in my opinion at least, has been the best player in the Premier League this season, and the Egyptian showed more evidence of why on Sunday. Another goal and assist to his tally, and Salah now holds the record for the most left-footed goals in a single Premier League season. Salah’s partner in crime also deserves heaps of praise, and it could well be argued that Liverpool’s most important Brazilian is still at Anfield, not the one sold to Barcelona. Firmino’s backheel pass to assist Salah’s goal is one of the best assists you will see all season, and reflected the outstanding connection that the pair have. But for Sadio Mane, his disappointing run of form continues and it is anybody’s guess as to when he might start playing well again. Sometimes it feels like he’s trying too hard, other times it just isn’t going his way. Some fans are already calling for Mane to be dropped, but the truth is he can’t as Liverpool have nobody else who could come in and play any better than even a bad Mane. Salah and Firmino are on fire at the moment, but you can’t help but feel a third attacker playing well would take a lot of pressure off their shoulders.

Ideal preparation as Champions League knockout stage looms…

There isn’t much better than Liverpool winning and Man United losing on the same day, and the results mean that a  second place finish is now back on the cards. Klopp’s team are now just two points behind Mourinho’s side, and United now have a difficult run of fixtures to contend with. Arsenal’s defeat to Spurs now pretty much puts them out of the top four picture, and things in the League are looking good for the Reds. But these thoughts must be put to one side for now as a massive first-leg against Porto awaits on Wednesday in the Champions League. The Southampton game was ideal preparation as players such as Jordan Henderson got rests and most of the players might as well have been rested given the ease of the second half. Emre Can is suspended for the game but Klopp has a few important decisions to make regarding his team selection, such as who will partner Van Dijk and who will play alongside Henderson in the midfield. Whatever team is playing, a positive result must be obtained to take back to Merseyside.

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