Saints V Liverpool The Verdict
Monday, 19th Aug 2019 10:34
Lets be blunt most Saints fans heading up to St Mary' s before the game on Saturday would have been happy if they were told we would only lose 2-1, but in the end we were disappointed not to get a point.
This game was never going to be easy after all Liverpool had won their last 10 Premier League games, a run going back to the start of March and equalling the club record consecutive League wins.
After the errors of Burnley the thought of Sadio Mane and Mo Salah was enough to worry even the most staunch Saints supporter.
As predicted in our match preview there were only two changes to the team that started at Burnley with Ralph Hasenhuttl opting for the experience of Yoshida rather than throwing in Kevin Danso who was on the bench with no place for Jack Stephens there.
Pierre Emile Hojbjerg also returned with the manager opting to go with only one up front, Danny Ings dropping to the bench to make way.
It has to be said that Saints were never going to dominate this game in terms of possession, they knew that Liverpool thrive when attacked thus allowing them to counter attack with pace, Hasenhuttl played the game right in the first half, he kept his team deep and they played Liverpool at their own game.
This meant that in the main the visitors despite a lot of the ball couldn't get their strikers in behind us or catch us for pace.
When we attacked we looked good, Yoshida got in a free header which was well saved by Adrian and Che Adams really should have buried a header from fairly close range, he just had to keep the ball down but didn't.
But all the good work was undone on the stroke of half time, you can deny the quality of Mane's shot from outside the box, but in my opinion it was yet another of those situations when we don't get a block in, too many times we see our opponents pull the trigger and the player marking him does not even attempt to make a tackle, it happened for the first goal at Burnley and it happened again here.
If we thought that we could get back in it after the break we found a Liverpool side with their heads up and resolute, but Ralph Hasenhuttl was ready to make changes, on came Danny Ings and we were going for it, some would say why didn't we start with this formation, but the manager was right to start cautiously and take it from there.
But we effectively put the game beyond our reach with 20 minutes to go, this was a time when leadership was needed and calm heads, we were trying to rush things too much and this was leading to errors, but with a throw in deep in our own half and Liverpool pressing we should have been in no rush, but too many players tried to hurry it up, a poor throw in, an even poorer pass and suddenly Liverpool were two up and cruising or so they thought.
On came Moussa Djenepo for Ryan Bertrand a truly bold move, Djenepo looked good on his debut, he worked hard down the flanks and looked willing to battle for the ball both when he had to defend and when we had to attack.
In the 81st minute the lifeline came out of nowhere, Adrian had the ball at his feet but he dithered and Danny Ings was in quick to close him down and sidefoot his clearance into an empty net.
Saints tried to go for a grandstand finish and almost succeeded when Danny Ings failed to make much contact in the final minute, the chance was not as easy as it looked but it was still one he would hope to score more often than not.
So we ended with a narrow defeat and in the preview I said that this would perhaps be a good result for us, after Burnley we needed to get out of meltdown mode, put that loss and the manner of it into perspective and show that we are a decent team and one that is getting better.
We did that against Liverpool on Saturday and that can now allow us to go into a series of far easier games than this with some confidence, however that is not to say that there is still some hard work to do, we have to cut out the mistakes at the back, which are costing us dearly in these two opening games.
Some on social media have been bemoaning the manager and saying that he should have started with an attacking line up, I think they are wrong, if we had done that then Liverpool had the firepower to rip us to shreds in the first half as they did Norwich on the opening day last week. Indeed Liverpool could have easily been 3-0 up before we scored, a series of misses and smart goalkeeping by Angus Gunn keeping the score down.
Ralph got his tactics right, we needed to restore our confidence and show ourselves we could hold Liverpool and then having done that start to try and attack a little more, last season we did attack and even at 1-1 with 10 minutes to go we were attacking and that ultimately cost us the game.
This time we almost played it perfectly, but it was not to be, to beat Liverpool you have to not only not make mistakes defensively but you have to take your chances.
So a good result performance wise just disappointing that in the end we lost so narrowly, we matched Liverpool in all areas bar possession so we can go to Brighton with confidence that we can now start to get points on the board.
The difference between the Saints side now and a year ago is massive, yes things are not quite perfect, but they are still a major improvement from Mark Hughes reign, we have a stronger squad with the new players looking good, we have a strong manager with a vision, we have players believing in themselves, we just now need to win a few games and march onwards and more importantly upwards.
Photo: Action Images
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|HythePeer added 10:43 - Aug 19|
One thing I can about this manager, he can sure pick a good bench!
|saintmark1976 added 11:16 - Aug 19|
What is the point of V A R when it allows Marriner to have his now customary St Mary's shocker? The man is a total incompetent. He's not fit and accordingly officiates from the middle of the pitch making decisions whilst being nowhere near the action. Our man gets booked for a fair but hard tackle in the first half only for Mane to take out our debutant winger from behind and to receive nothing. Once again nothing other than big club bias in my opinion.
In regard to the result. Put simply if you don't take clear cut chances then you end up with nothing and that's what happened on Saturday.
Redmond needs to taken aside and told if you want to be a top class forward then you need to take defenders on rather than play "safe" backwards and sideways passes.At the same time mention to him that football even now is a contact sport and yes you are going to get hurt, so grow a pair and please stop chickening out of tackles.
|IanRC added 11:23 - Aug 19|
I thought that we the better side for considerable periods of the first half, Liverpool bossed the first 30 mins or so of the second but then we were on top[ again. Was disgusted to see the referee not even refer the incident when Che Adams appeared to be pushed in the Liverpool penalty area to VAR, would definitely have liked to see it again. In fact as usual the referee appeared to favour Liverpool, booking Romeu for a good tackle and refusing to yellow card or even penalise Mane when, after making a good tackle, he tripped Djenepo to make sure he could not reach the ball as it ran free. Mane should have been sent off for the second challenge shortly afterwards.
Ings missing the last minute chance was hugely disappointing as I thought we deserved a draw not convinced he is value for money yet, Liverpool must have been having a good laugh about that. On the plus side I thought Djenepo looked very good indeed.
|saintnik added 11:23 - Aug 19|
Two points I would make, we are a long way from being a decent team and we do not have a stronger squad than last year. If anything we are weaker compared to other teams like Brighton and Bournemouth.
|wessexman added 11:56 - Aug 19|
Nick, you have been bemoaning the fact we simply cannot cut out our costly individual and collective mistakes at the back. This has been going on since Fonte left and van Dijk embarked on his great sulk. You can copy and paste an awful lot of match reports from the last couple of seasons. The fact these costly errors at the back have plagued us for so long makes it all the more baffling RH did not start by sorting his defence out once the transfer window opened. it is early days yet but...is the Brighton game now going to define our season already?
|halftimeorange added 12:14 - Aug 19|
It was a shame that Bednarek spoiled an otherwise good performance with a costly error. Although Djenepo certainly worried Liverpool, don't overlook the battling effort that Armstrong put in. As for Danny Ings, hmmm - he doesn't get involved enough and that miss was a howler - kicking with the wrong foot! I agree that Mariner had a poor game. I can't be the only one who thought Bertrand was pushed in the build up to their first goal. Saints generally need to sharpen up in front of goal otherwise we will be down among the dead men for quite a time.
|kristianJ added 12:50 - Aug 19|
I note there's no mention of Bednarek in the article, despite the fact he was to blame for both goals (I doubt Jack S would have been treated so kindly!). For the first goal Bednarek failed to mark Mane, then allowed him to turn and (quite predictably) got roasted for pace. For the second he gave the ball away near the touchline. He seems well liked by most of the Saints fans, but I don't think he's any better than the other CBs, he's good at being combative and winning the ball in the air, but he's very slow and probably our poorest player with the ball at his feet. I'd like to see Danso given some game time soon. The Brighton game now seems tougher that it did before the season given their early form. However, I still think Ralph will turn the results around soon.
|SaintPaulVW added 12:51 - Aug 19|
We played well really for long periods but regardless of dodgy refs, dodgy opponents, if we don't take the 3 nailed on 'just the keeper to beat' chances to score that we had, we will lose games.
It's frustrating that we play so well for most of the game but fail to convert the chances we make. Yes we need better CB's but even they make mistakes. Why did we get 3 good chances to score on Saturday playing against Liverpool's champions League winning defence? If that was liverpool at the other end against yoshida/Stephens, let's face it Bednarek this week, I don't doubt that we would be looking to pin a mistake on one if them them if one of those had gone in. If the goals had been scored let's face it your keeper can gift a goal and you still win.
We always start slowly. The problem is the pressure is on straightaway these days with the tables being out almost immediately. If we can finish August with 3 or 4 points that should settle us. Based on the way we played on Saturday, that should be achievable.
|A1079 added 13:16 - Aug 19|
Generally a good report and I would not argue with much of that. I agree, I think Ralph got it right in his starting line up. Romeu was excellent and got unjustly booked.
The mistakes at the back are costly, but they would be less costly if our attackers converted at least some of their chances to goals. Just about every other team seems to be able to find the net, even if they are new to the division. It is bewildering over the last couple of seasons and in these 2 games, of the inability of our frontline to stick the ball away when it matters.
|SaintBrock added 13:40 - Aug 19|
I agree with most of your report Nick. It is customary to blame one of our CBs for our defeat - in this match an unforced error by Bednarek leading to a goal but I think there were more gross errors by attackers that led to this defeat that somehow these get overlooked.
Adams heading over from 8 yds when unmarked and it would have bee easier to score
Ings missing an open goal for a tap in from Valery's cross late-on.
Huge errors at this level yet it is always our CBs who get labelled as" not PL class" or "Championship level at best". On Saturday the strikers were far more guilty of letting the side down and more deserving of these epithets.
|aceofthebase added 13:47 - Aug 19|
Well played Yoshida, the best defender we played. Yoshidas determined run, out jumping Van Dyck and a powerful header only to be saved when most of us were already celebrating. He was the difference that made our defence stronger and linked well with the forwards.
Adams missed a header and in his pre joining videos I never saw him score with a header. A little more practice is needed.
Ings was alert and got his 'lucky' goal but what a dreadful miss in the final minutes, it was not difficult, it was a perfect cross from Valery and that miss cost us a point.
In regards to their goals, Bednarek not that good but Hobjerg was very culpable in only making a half-hearted attempt to block Mane's excellent shot.
We bossed the first half much to everyone's surprise but fell asleep for the first twenty minutes in the second half rather than a high energy response and that cost us another goal.
Moussa came on and Liverpool were immediately threatened and worried with his speed,skill and enthusiasm. I was disappointed that Ings did not gain us a point but generally we played well against a really top team.
|SanMarco added 14:34 - Aug 19|
A missed opportunity for a 'surprise' point but encouraging that we played better. Far too early to panic. The defence is what it is (one of the weakest in the league) so it will be our attacking abilities that decide the fate of our season - if we are still not scoring after 10 or so games then it will be time to panic. No reason why we can't win at Brighton - probably have to score 2 or 3 to do so mind.
|SaintNick added 14:41 - Aug 19|
Saintnik, we are a stronger squad by definition that we have lost no one of note and have added two attackers and a defender to the numbers, no one is saying that we are there yet, but we are in a stronger position with the people we have than a year ago
|bstokesaint added 14:43 - Aug 19|
I’m pleased it wasn’t an annihilation and we at least made a game on it, but the stats still show a bit fat zero. It’s imperative we take 3 points against Brighton because otherwise it looks like mid September before our next chance to take some points. The big 6 are going to relish scoring against us, leaving us to scrap it out against the rest of the PL’s also-rans. Self sufficient we might be, but it’s going to be a long, painful season. I pity Ralph, he’s got a hell of a job on his hands.
|BuenosSaint added 15:01 - Aug 19|
Agree with the report; a lot of positives overall. Thought Valery had a shocker despite that late cross for ings. But I like him so hope it's a one off.
|landsdownsaint added 15:06 - Aug 19|
I thought we were great & well above what I expected , Yoshida isn’t a great defender but he was a lot more composed than if Stephens was playing & that gave the midfield & Gunn a bit more confidence, I thought DJenepo looked good & Redmond does get you on your feet although it rarely comes off but I’m still hoping it will all come together for him
|Boris1977 added 16:29 - Aug 19|
Good chances missed - check
Fall behind after having the better chances – check
Defensive errors – check
Much too early to panic but our most consistent player over the past years has been Deja-Vu and he’s carried on this season in the same form as the last few. Since Ralph arrived he has been trying to build confidence and rebuild the team – this is not an easy task while maintaining top flight status. I’m not sure what our identity is any longer it has been lost amongst the upheavals and failure of the past few years. This is yet another challenge Ralph is charged with rebuilding.
The fans have had it harder over the past three seasons than anyone connected to the club and are the ones who have to consistently brush ourselves down and remain as positive as possible. It’s really hard but what other choice do we have?
|KriSaint added 23:35 - Aug 19|
We played some decent football, but I fear a little bit that we won´t be scoring as many goals as we should with our current striker power. I hope I will be proven wrong. I agree that we have a better team compared to last season.
Top 12 is still within distance from what I´ve seen so far in he PL.
|Consigliere added 13:27 - Aug 20|
I've reflected long and hard on this game and read the many excellent points made above. The key question for me is this - if we continue to play as we did on Saturday are we heading for mid-table mediocrity or squeaky bum drop zone? I think its the former because against lesser teams than Liverpool (and lets face it, that's most of the league) we would have been good for a win on Saturday. There were errors for sure but they were mostly forced errors and Nick is right, Ing's failure to put the ball home right at the end was because it was a lot more difficult to do so than you might have thought. Overall I wasn't unhappy about this performance and I think we will soon start to pick up some points and relax. A bit. This is the Saints after all.
|KriSaint added 19:57 - Aug 20|
@ Consigliere ,
I agree. Let´s not forget that Ralph made the team earn 30 points in 22 matches last season = a point average close to 1.4 points per match, which is more than enough to avoid relegation.
Against Liverpool Gunn showed signs of being ready for the season, which is important.
3 points against Brighton and we have checked in with a decent start from 3 games of which 2 of them were away games.
No reason for panic.
|underweststand added 11:38 - Aug 23|
Predictable comments about the ref. and the lack of VAR situations.
Having won CL Liverpool will now take the Man U. mantle of holiness and get away with lots of bad tackles and " missed " situations, with the ref. looking the other way.
At the height of their success ... MU went 8 years and only conceded one penalty at Old Trafford..and that was in 80th minute in a game they had already won.
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