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Saints V Liverpool The Verdict
Thursday, 12th Jan 2017 09:47

Play the right players in the right team and you get the right result ! That was the story of the first leg of the League Cup semi final at St Mary's.

It was a result that both managers would probably have been happy about, Saints have an advantage to take up to Anfield in a fortnight and Jurgen Klopp will feel his side can overturn it, but for Saints fans the important thing was that we not only got a result but the manager proved that he knows what he is doing.

As I said in the preview it was all about naming the strongest side and perversely the absence of Jose Fonte seemed to gel the team spirit and motivate the players to put in perhaps their best performance of the season.

But for the first 20 minutes of the game it looked like Liverpool would run riot and Saints needed to keep their nerve, keep their concentration and make sure that they didn't give anything away and this they did.

Having done that they could start to impose themselves on the game and this they did on 20 minutes when Nathan Redmond put them ahead.

But it was still no simple task, Liverpool as in the League game dominated possession and looked for an opening and Saints had to work and work to make sure they did not create any clear openings.

In the main that is what happened and as the game progressed the visitors looked more frustrated and stopped working openings and tried pot shots from a distance.

Saints though will feel that they should have had more the visitors keeper made a couple of decent saves and if Saints had forced a second goal the tie would be very much in our favour.

This was a night when it was hard to pick a man of the match, it was a team dislay and you could pick and man in isolation and point out an excellent perforance, Nathan Redmond silenced his doubters with perhaps his best display, Jay Rodriguez worked his socks off, in the defence both full backs were superb, VVD was on top of his game and Yoshida dug in and deserves a special mention.

The midfield trio were superb and when they were spent, Hojberg and JWP came on and closed out the game.

But the mot pleasing thing is that the manager showed he knows his best team and hopefull he will have learn't a lesson as well last night and that is you need to keep the foundations of your team intact when you rotate.

But as they say it is only half time in the tie and Saints face a tough task up on Merseyside in a fortnight, but you feel that if they put in another display like last night that they can complete the job and get to Wembley.

A big step for Saints last night not only in the League cup but hopefully in their season and we can use this display to kick on.

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GeordieSaint added 09:54 - Jan 12
Well done lads! I am not a Redmond hater but he should defo have scored more than 1 although I think everybody would have preferred it if that chip had gone in off Lovren. Still a long way to go but you would take that result before the kick off, I thought Yosh was immense and Virgil is simply regal in the way he goes about his business.
Do away goals not count in this competition?

highfield49 added 10:10 - Jan 12
Great to see some fight and passion back on the pitch. Real team performance and Romeu was immense yet again. Blinding pace from Cedric to open up their defence, such a shame he couldn't give the finish his effort deserved. More of this and everyone will be off the manager's back, at last. Well played lads.

Sanguin added 10:10 - Jan 12
Away goals count, so scoring a goal at Anfield in a fortnight will mean they would need to win 3 – 1 (or by 2 goals) to stop us getting to the final.

Yesterday was a good display, after the recent poor run of results it should be a huge confidence boost which we can take into a reasonably easy run of fixtures ahead of the reverse leg at Anfield.

We would feel differently if Redmond hadn’t scored a goal though. For me this game summed up our season; we play well and create plenty of chances but fail to take those chances and put the game to bed. This reminds me of the game at the Emirates where Shane Long had two or three fantastic chances and we ended up losing the game.

I don’t think there is anyone we can buy in January who would definitely be better than what we have or would fix our goalscoring problem ahead of Austin’s return, but something has to happen or this will continue to feel like a disappointing season.

Consigliere added 10:13 - Jan 12
No carping about us not scoring more goals please! We all know the second leg will be difficult but just enjoy the moment of one of the best team performances this season. No one player especially outstanding really though Davis is the unsung hero and Romeu was immense. This was a night when it can truly be said that every man did his duty.

LordDZLucan added 10:13 - Jan 12
Masterclass from Puel. His tactics nullified Liverpool's way of playing. Shame we didn't score more goals. One downside - it's becoming clear that Clasie, Davis and Tadic don't last 90 minutes which could be a problem if we pick up injuries during a game and are therefore not able to sub them. But much more encouraging than of late.

WestSussexSaint added 10:40 - Jan 12
Sanguin - away goals only count after extra time not 90mins so if Liverpool are leading at Anfield 2-1 after 90mins then the match will go to extra time and they will need to score again otherwise Saints go through.

Last nights performance was a tactical master class executed by players who looked really up for it. Klopp is hailed as the next big thing in management but his team were out thought and out fought last night. Big credit to Puel. All the players deserve massive credit as well and hopefully they can finish the job at Anfield. It will be tough and I hope the same 11 remain available. No sales in the meantime please Les.

Final word on the Ref. What a shocking display of incompetence at best and bias at worst. He should be disciplined and dropped for a couple of weeks for that display.

LordDZLucan added 10:51 - Jan 12
Have to agree with your comment on the ref, WestSussexSaint. Almost made the same point in my first post. Must have been a long journey back to Liverpool for him!

steve73 added 10:58 - Jan 12
Unexpectedly brilliant effort from players and manager, I'd forgotten how good it feels to watch your team put in a performance like that! The intensity level was the biggest difference for me, and it had a knock on effect to the fans making for a memorable evening. I hope it's a sign that we've finally clicked, the last couple of months have felt like a sleepwalk but there was real fire in that display which has raised my hopes for the rest of the season.

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 11:00 - Jan 12
A few key thoughts:

Romeu was man of the match. What a revelation he's been this season. He's better than Wanyama ever was. Congratulations to the club on another miraculous player purchase.

Yoshida has done very well this season. At 28 years old, after 4 and a half years at Saints, he's finally cut out the majority of glaring mistakes and is doing a great job.

Clasie has improved from last season. He struggled with the strength and pace of the opposition last year but has now adjusted and is a solid performer in midfield. More consistant than Hoijberg at the moment. Offers little going forward though.

JRod as much as I loved him in his prime, he's lost a yard of pace and doesn't offer enough as a lone striker. As harsh as it sounds I'm not sure he has a future at the club.

The club desperately needs a top quality number 9. That's the difference between taking a 1-0 and a 3-0 lead to Anfield.

REEDYREEDOREEDZ added 11:08 - Jan 12
Congratulations to Claude Puel as well, got the system, tactics and personnel spot on. Was a big night for him and his relationship with the supporters. Now on to a tough away game at Burnley where minimal personnel changes are needed to get a result.

Consigliere added 11:43 - Jan 12
I agree with W Sussex about the ref though frankly I thought he was awful for both teams - we got away with a few muscular tackles which up set the visiting supporters. Tadic's problem is that he can't help himself from going for a BAFTA award even when he is genuinely brought down - cut that out and he may get a bit more sympathy! Sometimes, less is more.

arthurfane added 11:49 - Jan 12
Disagree about Rodriguez (certainly not on last night's display at least) - great assist for Redmond and never stopped running. Of course it would have been nice to press home our advantage and have a few goals' cushion for Anfield, but I can't fault Saints last night - they had me on the edge of my seat, excited again for the first time in a while!

Strong argument could be made for Redmond, Romeu, JRod, VVD (as always), Cedric and Yosh for MOTM, such was the strength of this team performance. We just came up against an inspired goalkeeping performance, and could have been a bit more clinical.

Great to see Forster back to his best - admittedly didn't have much to do, but made a smart save (from where I was sitting...), kicked well, and even came off his line to gather a through ball. Harry Lewis really did lay down the gauntlet...

Come on Saints - a cup final would be amazing!

tiptop added 11:51 - Jan 12
Good team performance as noted above.
Liverpool were poor and we should have another goal.
I'd like to know JRods stats re his pace.
I don't think he is too far off his previous pace. No doubt he might have lost some percent of speed but he needs time still to fine tune his performance levels.
I was impressed with his attitude, passion and workrate last night. He really wanted it and it showed. He is the most natural talent and goalscorer after ChasA and will get goals.
We still need to sign some quality reinforcements tho.

saintmark1976 added 12:15 - Jan 12
I wonder if last nights performance had anything to do with the fact that the club appears to have made a statement to the other players in regard to the Fonte situation? Simply put " no one man is bigger than the club" perhaps. This coupled with the previous comment that VVD is going nowhere during the January window may have helped also. Interestingly West Ham appear to be adopting the same attitude with Payet who is not even training with the first team since telling the manager that he no longer wishes to play for them.

SanMarco added 12:23 - Jan 12
Good performance - yes Liverpool were poor but we helped make them poor with our energy and application. I was very pessimistic beforehand and after 18 minutes or so had seen little to change my mind. The goal changed everything and this time we remained strong, the Redmond chip near the end could so easily have gone in and that really would have capped a great night. Even so, perhaps one will be enough - all of our 4 visits to Anfield so far would have seen us win or at least go to extra time!

Like the swallow and summer one good performance does not make us world beaters but it is a hell of a sight better than a bad performance. I agree with all the calls for minimum changes for Saturday. I (assuming no Fonte) would start the same 11 but with Long for JRod.

halftimeorange added 12:33 - Jan 12
This was both a good performance and an opportunity missed. What mystifies me is why the team collectively turned up for this one after the shambles against Hull and WBA, to name but two recent woeful performances with largely the same group on the pitch. Perhaps removing Fonte from the equation has had some positive effect but I doubt it. Not too many pro footballers are sensitive to others. I will say that Virgil looked like a captain last night, issuing orders throughout the game (most notably ignored by J-Rod and Redman). As others have noted, ref Swarbrick was equally unfair to both teams and should have booked both Tadic and Sturridge for cheating. Liverpool put out a relatively short side which helped our cause in defending - even Cedric won a few headers. Biggest plus for me was seeing Forster back to his commanding best. Again, where has that been recently (when he's played)? Even his kicking was positive. I shall now buy a ticket for the Norwich replay.

deanosfc8 added 12:35 - Jan 12
This result has just kick started our season again, going to the game with little optimism & that goes for must of us too leaving the game like a 10 year old on a trampoline! 2 players I'm usually very critical of Clasie & Redmond both came to the party last night, fantastic for them & well done Puel, at last the right team selection.

SaintJez added 12:39 - Jan 12
Great performance last night.

re: J Rod's pace, it's hard to know as he doesn't back it like he used to before he got injured. I can't ever recall him going full tilt since he's been back. Last night there was one clear moment where the ball broke to him and he was running around halfway at the last man Klavan. Pre-injury, he would have just knocked that past him and pinned his ears back. Last night, he dithered and looked for a pass inside and cut the move dead.

That said, it was his best game this season by some margin. The backheel to set Redmond through was a delight!

ItchenNorth added 13:34 - Jan 12
Couldn’t have summed it up any better than REEDYREEDOREEDZ. Therefore I’m not bothering to read anymore of the comments !

Still need a striker in January.

law101 added 13:57 - Jan 12
Just a quick point on Clasie, pleased to see he is showing the sort of quality we had hoped for. Tenacious, good on the ball and hard working. As it hasn't always been plain sailing I feel he is worth a mention.

law101 added 14:01 - Jan 12
Also for what it's worth, I felt J Rod looked sharp and had a touch of class at times that I never saw from Austin, yes he wasted a few half chances but his touch is back, he closed the ball well and he should have scored had Cedric fed him the ball.

pintsizedsaint added 14:18 - Jan 12
Great, all round performance. Redmond stood out for me. Yes he might have had more but the keeper also played a part in that. Redmond was an inch away form scoring a fantastic goal. Lovely composure : he couldn't blast that as Karius had closed down.

My other observation: Puel rotates but keeps two constants in VVD and Romeu. He needs to add a third: Steven Davis. His contribution last night was immense.

amsterdamsaint added 16:13 - Jan 12
Steven Davis was brilliant. What an intelligent player.

SaintBrock added 16:45 - Jan 12
Delightful evening, the lads played their hearts out for us so no complaints whatsoever. We'll play a lot worse than this and still win

SaintBrock added 16:52 - Jan 12
As this was an EFL competition then presumably only EFL officials were eligible to ref and run the lines. That would certainly explain the bizarre decision making.

Probably their mates had been ribbing them all week about "lucky B--- you got Liverpool" so they were awe-struck by the dayglo yellow shirts. Either that or they genuinely need to get a day job.

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