The Reds got themselves over the line in what was a stunning performance, but did cause themselves unnecessary pressure towards the end. But despite this, Liverpool came away from St Mary’s with a well-deserved 2-1 victory down on the South Coast. This player analysis will look at the two Liverpool players that were fundamental in their victory against Southampton, using statistics.
The Merseyside-based outfit were obvious favourites to win the game but were pegged back by a plucky Southampton side who took the option to play a high line and with just three in defence, which was especially brave considering the calibre of opposition they were facing.
The Saints did not come to lie down. Definitely not. But Liverpool eventually found the key to unlock Southampton’s proverbial heart.
Those Two Yet Again
It’s fair to say that Liverpool have some of the best attacking quality in the Premier League as a whole, and it was goal scorers Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino that manager Jurgen Klopp has to thank for their win on Saturday afternoon in Hampshire. Not just for the goals, but also their staunch efforts off the ball as well.
Let’s start off with the Senegalese icon that is Mane, the manager has provided him with a system in where he can score goals but can also provide efficient defensive cover if required. Who Scored recorded 51 touches from last season’s joint golden boot winner.
Mane proved to be more of a chance creator as opposed to a chance finisher, although the goal he scored just before half-time was nothing short of sensational, and no surprise from a man of his ability. He conjured up just two shots on game, both of them on target, and created five key passes which led to opportunities and provided the ball to Firmino to bring Liverpool’s second goal of the afternoon.
The 27-year-old’s passing, in general, was pretty poor however, with a passing accuracy of just 68%, which is unusually low for a man of his standards. This partly had something do with the quick pressing from Southampton in their own half, having learnt their lesson after break for showing him onto his right foot for the all-important opening goal for Liverpool.
Brazilian forward Firmino also had a big say in his side’s fortunes on Saturday, having made a huge contribution coming off the bench against Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup Final just three days earlier. He picked up where he left off and was simply superb, his efforts still remain extremely underrated from a footballing generic point of view.
Firmino, also 27, only had 48 touches during the 90 minutes but mainly dropped deep to provide efficient supply to the wingers, Liverpool mainly relied on their offensive work down the left-hand side with Andy Robertson and Sadio Mane doing most of the leg work throughout the game.
The South American-born international found himself in the thick of it having completed three dribbles, was dispossessed on three separate occasions and took two bad touches all game. Firmino found himself dropping behind Mohamed Salah and was utilised as the anchorman, which worked to great effect as drawing defenders Maya Yoshida and Jannik Vestergaard provided the Egyptian space to run into. The home side dealt with this pretty well but could not prevent every opportunity as Firmino would eventually get his goal after some excellent dribbling on the edge of the box caught out shot-stopper Angus Gunn with a snapshot.
He had two shots and the one on target was enough to help his team to victory, no thanks to a catastrophic error from goalkeeper Adrian with just seven minutes from time.
Liverpool’s attacking players have pretty much picked up where they left off last season and find themselves top of the table after just two games, which of course is nothing to go by during such an early period of the season. However, it is a critical reminder to others of the pace and power that Liverpool provide in the striking department, and that they have the best attacking trio in the Premier League, no question.
But with Klopp opting to renew the contract of Divock Origi and release Daniel Sturridge, it remains to be seen whether Liverpool will be firing from all cylinders if any injuries do crop up. Next, Arsenal. A huge test for the Reds.