The Reds returned from the international break in convincing fashion as they swept aside a well organized Southampton side who had been a massive problem for Jurgen Klopp in his time in England to date. A first half brace by Mohamed Salah, and a third by Philippe Coutinho led the Reds to victory in a match that ultimately always seemed well in control. What did we then learn from this enjoyable afternoon at Anfield?
For reasons I really can’t really explain, there was a bit of a meltdown amongst supporters when it was announced Joel Matip would miss the game. Matip is a solid defender, and definitely adds to our build up play but his absence could hardly be considered catastrophic under any circumstances. After all, Dejan Lovren had played very well in helping Croatia navigate their way past an always tricky Greek side in the World Cup playoff. As a confidence player, it was key that Lovren had a positive experience on the international break, and it seems he most definitely did.
The thought as well appeared to be that Joe Gomez had now become the indispensable centre half for us. One day that might be the case but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. It turned out that Gomez wasn’t even selected for the first eleven, and Trent Alexander-Arnold came in at right back and Lovren of course returned at centre half alongside Ragnar Klavan.
The duo proceeded to exceed expectations putting in a near faultless display at the back for the Reds. Lovren in particular was a shining light making many key interventions that put a stop to opportunities that potentially could have allowed the Saints back in the game. It was the type of performance we (most of us anyway!) know that Lovren is capable of when he has that belief within himself. Let us hope this is the start of a brand new chapter for the big centre half.
Trent Gaining Experience
Trent Alexander-Arnold is a phenomenal talent. To be as impressive as he is at his age, in a mostly unfamiliar position is worthy of massive acclaim. However, he did had some shaky moments in the first half today particular with regards to his decision making.
Despite this however, he rebounded very well in the second half and didn’t seem to put a foot wrong. He left Lovren slightly exposed a couple of times but with the Croatia in good form it didn’t prove to be a problem. It was his ability to again adapt to his surroundings which again left me very content. A young player will make mistakes but if he can learn from them almost immediately then you know he is going to be something truly special.
The more games that Alexander-Arnold can get at this level can only help him moving forward. The revitalization of Joe Gomez means we no longer need to rush him into a regular starting spot. Currently, he is in an ideal role for a player of his age and the team will surely reap the benefits of this in the not so distant future.
Panic? What Panic?
Football once again proves to be a funny old sport. Only weeks ago, we left Wembley feely completely embarrassed and deflated by what we saw. It was said that Spurs are a perfect example of a team on the up and up and we paled in comparison.
Well fast forward to this evening and we now sit just a point behind these trend setters who now have to face a lengthy period without their top defender Toby Aldeweireld. Spurs have been brilliantly assembled by Mauritio Pochettino but there is no reason we should ever feel inferior to them. Things in football can change in a heart beat which is again why I try so hard to see the bigger picture even in times of what look like complete despair. The return of the potent foursome of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino, Salah and Coutinho had been a long time coming but with them in the team there is never a reason not to feel good about our chances.
On top of this Adam Lallana has returned to near full fitness and should make his season debut in the next week or so. If we can keep Alberto Moreno and Dejan Lovren in their current form for an extended period then there is no reason to believe that this can’t still be a great season.
Salah the Steal
I can’t finish a summary of what we learnt without again praising the top class form of summer bargain signing Mo Salah who has certainly exceeded even the highest of expectations thus far in his Liverpool career. I think we mostly knew that he’d be good, just not this good! What is most pleasing about Salah is that his attitude appears to be exemplary. He remains a team player despite his goalscoring exploits and the whole attack seem to truly enjoy playing with each other. They have truly brilliant chemistry.
The lack of ego in any of our front players again bodes extremely well for the rest of the season. Expect plenty more fireworks to come.
So after almost two years of frustration for Jurgen Klopp with Southampton, the pressure finally told for the Saints as even they could not withstand the Salah impact. The signs are very good that this form should continue as we could certainly argue that the team never even really hit top gear today and still ran out comfortable winners against a team who are typically very stingy defensively. International breaks are never too pleasing but when you return from one with this kind of performance, the long wait is swiftly forgotten. Big week ahead now, come on the Reds!