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Southampton At Liverpool The Verdict
Sunday, 9th May 2021 10:47

Sadly it was another defeat for Saints, but it was a performance with a spirit that has been lacking at times over the past 4 months and although this season will peter out into disappointment, there are some positive points to be taken from this game.

From the start you could see this was a Saints team with purpose, they played with a determination throughout that has often been missing, it was end to end stuff and Saints matched Liverpool throughout the game in terms of chances and whilst no blame can be attached on either of the home side's goals to Fraser Forster it was poignant that the Sky man of the match was Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.

Nathan Tella looked lively in the first half especially and caused the home side problems and James Ward Prowse and Stuart Armstrong worked tirelessly in the centre of midfield, chances were being created at both ends but it was Liverpool who took the lead and again you could say we switched off for just a second in defence and the home side took advantage, it was a goal in many ways similar to the goal scored by Leicester last weekend.

But Saints didn't give up and continued the fight throughout the game and had their chances but just couldn't take them, Che Adams and Nathan Tella both having good efforts.

Right up to the 90th minute the game could have gone either way with Ralph Hasenhuttl throwing on both Michael Obafemi and Moussa Djenepo for fresh legs, but although there were moments the final goal of the game went to Liverpool and it was harsh on a Saints side and gave the result a more comprehensive feel to Liverpool than it actually was.

Liverpool themselves did have more purpose than they have had of late, but Spurs defeat earlier in the day suddenly gave Liverpool a chance to leap above them into the top six and Leicester defeat on Friday an outside chance of a Champions League spot, suddenly once again Saints were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we stood up to the task.

So a disappointing night for Saints in terms of the result, but I have always been a person to take the positives out of any situation, Ralph Hasenhuttl has to move forward and get this awful season over with.

The fact that we could still take on a Liverpool side without our top scorer and defensive midfield player out of action showed we are progressing, no one argues that we need to improve the squad and that is essential in the summer.

Last night will have shown the manager a few things that he will want to change, personally I do not think the partnership between Jan Bednarek and Jannik Vestergaard is a good match, if Spurs or Leicester as rumoured are interested in the Dane then if the price is right I would take it, the replacement is already at the club in Mohamed Salisu.

The performance of Nathan Tella perhaps suggests that we do not need to make Theo Walcott's loan move permanent next season, all football clubs are going to be strapped for cash next season, Walcott's wages will not be as high as they are now at Everton but they will still be substantial, in the last few months Tella has done more than Walcott and he might just be the better option next season.

This game is now over, we have four games left where we are now playing just for the prize money per place, we play Crystal Palace on Tuesday and follow that up with the home game against Fulham on Saturday, two games that we can win and in doing so move up a place or two.

Photo: Action Images

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wibbersda added 11:04 - May 9
Good performance but once again FF stuck to his line when a simple step out and punch was the better option. As for Theo, thanks for you service but bye bye now.

sandywelsh added 11:07 - May 9
Walcott has to go at the end of the season because he is so ineffective. Saints should not start him and Redmond in the same team because they are both weak and offer no defensive cover.
Why was Salisu not playing instead of Stephens? Salisu is faster and reads the game better than Stephens.
Salah gave Stephens the run around all night and the first goal was caused by him not cutting out the cross.

cocklebreath added 11:28 - May 9
Agreed about Walcott, he doesn’t look like a footballer anymore and Tella deffo has potential. Not sure why Ralph isn’t playing Salisu as he is clearly the future, if vestegaard is going then give Bednerek and Salisu some game time together. Though obefemi looked pacy when he came on but he’s as wide as he is tall

underweststand added 11:29 - May 9
Like the Tottenham game, the final score doesn't reflect Saints contribution to the game.
On another day, Saints might have got a result - had it not been for Allison's heroics, and our defensive set-up.
KWP may have been Saints best player, yet he was in part responsible for both goals, and Forster made several great saves, yet couldn't be faulted for either Liverpool goal.

Despite their individual qualities, our back line just don't seem to be able to get it together and despite several bright spots we still can't score without Danny Ings.
Now it's just 2 goals (Ings + a JWP penalty) in the last 5 games.
Obviously, the defence needs an overhaul, but we really must look to some new goalscoring talents. Ché Adams will get a 10 most games for sweat and effort but he still can't score on a regular basis, and neither can any of the alternatives around him.

in the end, not an unexpected result -even in an empty Anfield, but there were signs of encouragement , but sadly no points again.


Centurion added 11:31 - May 9
Agree to some extent Nick. Having said that we should mark our progress with at least 4 points from the next two games.
Hoping that WBA and Fulham suffer defeats before then to put away any end of season nerves!

highfield49 added 11:36 - May 9
Moving forward and getting this awful season over with is probably what we all want Nick, the problem is that it's difficult to be positive about the future unless there are major changes before next season. My lifting of gloom after the Leicester performance now looks rather premature. I just can't see the club being able to shift high earning ineffective players unless their contracts are expiring. It seems that the defensive failings of the past have now become the goal scoring problems of the present and none of the current players at the club appear capable of stepping up to the plate. Liverpool weren't very much better than us and certainly lack the quality of several other teams we've played but they still got all three points. Yes, their goal keeper was elected man of the match but that was a default choice because no other player made much impression. Fair enough their average performance came from some pretty expensive players, none of whom we could even consider buying, and even then Minamino can't get into their team. I want to be positive and say it's just been a bad run, but it's far more than that and if we can't recruit some instinctive goal scorers very quickly the future looks bleak before we even kick off next season. Maybe there is some truth in the club being sold in the near future and that seems to be the only way out of the current slump. Wins from the Palace and Fulham games might lift the gloom again but that will be an illusion of where the club needs to be to be competitive and not struggle next year.

Boris1977 added 11:42 - May 9
Defensive lapses and wasteful up front. Sound familiar? We'll probably stay up but down to Fulham not having enough in the tank rather than our own efforts. How many times have you written 'that match has gone, lets more on to the next one' only for the next match to generally pan out in the same predictable manner.

This season has been the worst since the relegation days (the record books and the table are testament to this) and we should not kid ourselves that a few tweaks will fix it. If we stay up this season (and if we are playing for our survival against West ham on the last day I can only see one outcome).

The ownership issue needs to be addressed. No business can perform efficiently and effectively with an owner who is looking to sell. We are vulnerable here as we are between two very precarious positions someone who wants shot of the club who will not invest in an asset he no longer wishes to own but prey to a hedge fund pirate waiting to pick up a bargain and get as much quick return for any investor rather than invest in the club. The two things standing between us and a dodgy owner are Gaos integrity and the premierships fit and proper test. As I say precarious.

I was firmly in the 'in Ralph we trust' camp and realise he has been working with certain restrictions due to the legacy of others, but after the Newcastle match I've been getting more frustrated by his odd selections, odd subs, the majority of performances and most importantly the results - the most relevant indicator of success.

I want Ralph to success and succeed at Saints but he is on borrowed time and the decisions made by the board over the summer are going to be critical to his future and the future of the club.



davidargyll added 12:10 - May 9
What is it about Theo? Could Arsenal Wenger have got him so wrong over all these years, or has he always promised a lot but never really delivered? Could he possibly be like Nathan Redmond who only lately is at last starting to find his mojo? But one sublime pass yesterday (byTW) and not very good at all the rest of the time is not reason enough to sign him.
I agree with those who say we really shouldn’t buy him on the basis of pretty average performances since he joined us, but the implication from the comments on Thursday’s conference call was that he is part of the plans going forward and is going to stay. Hmmmm.

As for the game, I didn’t have particularly high hopes but we did play well for a lot of the time and didn’t seem to run out of puff which made a change. And had Alisson not been on such sparkling form we maybe could have got something out of the game. But Che’s attempts showed that, although he undoubtedly tries hard, finesse just isn’t in his vocabulary. In fact had we been able to play Minamino, I’m sure he would have scored at least twice by lifting the ball over the goalie’s head (as he did a few months back) rather than blast it as hard as he could straight at him.

But I do sense in our last two games that there is just a smidgin of purpose and improvement coming through, albeit rather late in the day

So now three home games to come and two points needed. Surely we can’t be the Swansea of 2020-21? Palace conceivably won’t care because they’re safe, Fulham may be doomed by next weekend anyway but it could be tough if they’re not, and Leeds will also hopefully be on the beach. But I’m still keeping every finger and toe crossed…

JoeEgg added 12:25 - May 9
Well done Nick - in the space of just a few weeks you have changed from our 'best ever season' to our 'awful season'!! You also forget to stress that we are still not safe yet and if it all comes down to Southampton v Fulham at St Mary's then we could still be looking at Championship football next season. On paper there are games remaining that should provide us with all we need to survive, but right now there isn't a single side in the Premier League that should fear playing us!
Once again last night it is only too obvious that we do not have anybody capable of scoring goals. When Ings is out - and that seems to be a regular occurence- we watch the likes of Redmond and Walcott failing to turn scoring opportunities into goals. What a contrast it was to watch Newcastle take on Leicester the other night. The same Leicester team WE always struggle against. Their superb counter attacking performance demonstrated what is needed when you have a side struggling to compete.
I can only presume that Salisu was left out yesterday so that he can play a full part in next week's games, although I cant see him contributing much to goalscoring. We just do not have the players to win matches and there will be an enormous sigh of relief we earn a point or two and survive this 'awful' season - more likely if it comles, it will come courtesy of Fulham and WBA dropping points!

bornonthemiltonroad added 12:29 - May 9
Tired of taking on teams with only 8 1/2 players. Redmond is just so ineffective, he takes the sting out of attacks by going to walking pace and then pass backwards. Walcott just runs around aimlessly and when he does get the ball usually it’s taken off him. And Adams gives his all but just cannot finish. Why can’t Ralph see how poor these players are? He must get rid and recruit quality so at least we can take on teams 11 v 11.

saintmark1976 added 12:30 - May 9
Boris1977, your penultimate paragraph sums up the situation in reference to Ralph almost perfectly. My only additional comment being that like a lot of things in modern day life he is a “ Triumph of presentation over Substance”. Football is a results led business and his recent record simply doesn’t match his presentation skills. I’m firmly of the opinion that we would be better off going forward if he were to depart now. In any event, should new owners appear any time soon I fully expect that they will make the decision for him.

Jesus_02 added 12:31 - May 9
Hard to believe we went top this season

stmichael added 12:34 - May 9
Che is just not a finisher.
Works hard but you don’t get many chances at this level and he misses far more than he scores.
He has to score yesterday - twice...

SanMarco added 12:36 - May 9
I think their keeper was helped by the fact that everything was hit straight at him. Che works very hard but he misses chances like that far too often. Walcott is not giving us the glorious swan-song that the sentimentalists hoped for and I fully agree that we don't need him. Yes, Tella is promising but he does need to start scoring. As for Redmond, I thought he was excellent in the first half but when the golden chance came - straight at the keeper. Without Ings the best first (or any) goal bet is JWP or Armstrong or perhaps the big CBs from a corner. That is not good enough.

I thought we were alright, on the whole, in defence against a distinctly average Liverpool side. Yet again one lapse (JS twice with the header and then a lazy non-attempt to cut out the cross) and FF, who although he had a good game is hopeless on crosses.

We looked good with JWP and Armstrong leading us forward but let's be honest, just like the Spuds game, the opposition may have been 'Big Six' but they weren't playing well and were there for the taking. Many sides who we ought to feel superior to have gone to Anfield and got something. In the end it was yet another defeat, some causes for optimism but still no points.

If Fulham win tomorrow night then the Palace gane becomes more important than it should have been. I have nightmares of us having to cheer on a 'nothing to play for' Manure vs Fulham in a couple of weeks. I can't wait for this miserable season to end.

Colburn added 13:13 - May 9
Groundhog day.... Yawn... Same old same old. We won't win many matches with Walcott and Redmond in the team. They are both abysmal without the ball and lack any positive impact with the ball. At least the others get stuck in and move against the ball with intent and pressure. Why they continually get starting places is beyond me. To suggest Redmond is getting his mojo back is laughable.. He found his level against the likes of Burnley Bournemouth and Sheffield United. Yes sometimes he comes up with a nice piece of play but he is lazy and the quality is few and far between. Walcott has one plan, find some traffic and run headlong straight into it with his head down. If we are thinking of signing him, then the club are naive and clueless. Nick, you fail to mention that Liverpool's home record is appalling of late and they had two youth players at centre back. Another team there for the taking and when we actually tried to be positive, the weakness of the Liverpool defence was clear to see. Yet again though, we were too obsessed with the same boring, predictable patterns and without Armstrong in the number 10 role, we missed another opportunity to win at Anfield. Where was Salisu, Vestergaard was a lazy lump again and again no Diallo. So we spent money we needed for important positions on players Ralph still doesn't trust and has not developed professionally it seems. Where is Jankewitz? Why start him against a strong Utd and not a weak and lost Liverpool. The post match analysis should not include history or reputation, but be balanced with the current status quo and that is we lost yet another game to a poor team with no first team centre backs, with awful home form having lost to many in the bottom half and we did this with completely the wrong personnel once again. I can't see another win this season and can't see how anyone can defend Ralph with 'what he has had to work with', yet continually support the structure above him with excuses for them..
Redmond, Walcott and Minamino are a waste of space when it comes to the style Ralph wants to play and he keeps repeating the same mistakes, so it's time for him to go. He picks the team, decides the tactics and sets them up mentally. There is so much wrong, a change of manager is essential if we want to avoid relegation next season.

corkcitysaint added 13:37 - May 9
Overall a good performance compared to the last few weeks but admittedly against a currently poor Liverpool who lack confidence themselves. Agree with many of the above that Adams is a good workhorse but lacks finesse and composure in front of goal. To be fair, he was closed down very quickly by Alisson but he should have put away his chance in the second half. These are the match defining moments in any game Especially for a team like us that struggles for goals. We have to take the opportunity when presented like that.

Redmond played a better first half than normal, faded in the second. Again, when he has a chance at goal he snatches at it. As of Walcott, the only positive impact he had last night was walking off the pitch to be replaced.. I'm afraid his best days are long behind him.

I think our best signing for next season would be a psychologist... If we were able to hold on to even half the points we've thrown away from winning positions this season, we'd be well safe.


I_would added 14:00 - May 9
We are never going to score a goal with the team that played Liverpool. We just haven't got a goalscorer in the entire fit squad. The only way we will get a point between now and the end of the season is to go for a 0-0 with 3 CB's. But Ralph wants to 'compete'. Well we can't Ralph, surely that's been proven even to you.

DellBoyWally added 14:28 - May 9
Good performance generally but disagree with Ralph's selection again.
Walcott should go, offers so little. Good idea for the early cross to Adams but had no pace on the ball and gave the keeper time to come out. A hard hit cross, Adams meets it first time and bang, into my cousin's garden down Anfield road!!
Redmond looked lively first half but as is so often the case no end product. Why in second half given the ball with lots of space ahead does he meander along before passing back. He should be going at the defence.
Whilst Armstrong looks good alongside JWP I'd prefer to see him further forward. Start Diallo with JWP (he IS premier standard); needs to start, not as a late sub chasing a game.
Salisu looked so good when starting and should be on for Stephens till we get a LB in the summer!! HHhhmmm?!
Do we give up on Adams? As mentioned by others he has had his chance (and the chances!) but where are the goals we all hoped for?
FF had a good game. Could he have come for the cross to Mane? Subjective opinions from non-goalkeepers say yes. Not so sure. KWP was out of position and finished behind instead of on front of Mane and blocking his run.
I would sell:- Stephens; Redmond; McCarthy; Long (with a very big thank you) If JanV does go we will have JanB and Sally as CB. If he stays I'd play with 3 CBs with KWP as a roaming wing back/RB with Sally moving across to LB when defending as a back 4
But we also need goals. If Ings stays he is going to be in and out of the side as his injuries aren't going to vanish.
My team next year would be:
FF in goal with a new one in to replace McCarthy; the aforementioned back 3/4; JWP and Diallo; Armstrong roaming rightside/centre MF with Tella on the left; Ings/A Newbie and Adams up front.
Ings/A Newbie can score; Armstrong can score; Diallo will score; Tella and Adams need to score.
If we had the money........let's not go there!!

DellBoyWally added 14:33 - May 9
And as I finished my comment Portsmouth missed out on a playoff place. Aaaaaahhh:-(

SaintPaulVW added 14:46 - May 9
I agree that Walcott was just not up to speed yesterday. Bumped off the ball everytime or falls down in the box. Redmond I thought had a good game. Went past several players and was always looking for the ball and to go forwards.

I think we are in danger of becoming that nice team that everyone likes to watch but doesn't win. We need to become hard to beat

I agree that if we get an offer for JV we should sell. Also that I wouldn't offer a contract on high wages to Walcott. Tella looks a good prospect. Although he needs a bit more composure in front of goal.

Up front I worry that Che just hasn't got the guile to be able to get the crucial goals when he is given a good chance. He now seems to want to hit a shot first time but if that fails I haven't seen any thing else in the bag. Obafemi caused more problems for the defence in the few brief minutes he was on than Che did all game.

Stephens again was good. Really believe that Salisu should have been given the nod. Stephens probably has a back up role to play. If he doesn't want that I presume he will leave.

Agree that we played well in the most part but I can't wait for this season to be over.



Block8 added 15:21 - May 9
Lets start Nlundulu against Palace and give the fella a chance to show his stuff. We know what we have at present and it isn't good enough. Ralph is continually rewarding failure. Give our kids a chance to show what they've got! As I said earlier we paid £10 million for Diallo and he is not PL standard, yet. We paid £14 million for Djenepo and he is not PL standard still but we would much rather give our kids splinters from the bench than a run out!

IanRC added 15:40 - May 9
Agree Walcott is awful but thought Redmond played well in the first half too much backwards in the second. It is still Ramadan so maybe that was part of the reason for resting Salisu ahead of Palace otherwise I am at a loss.

Really should have scored last night, thought Adams should have stepped left on his first chance and lobbed or run in further for the second. I really want him to succeed but he and Tella really need to start showing better returns.

Please don’t offer Walcott a contract and soak up our scarce funds in his wages, would rather have Shane Long back as he is far more intelligent with his choices.

SanMarco added 16:40 - May 9
My two words for today are Accrington and Stanley...

SaintStu7 added 16:51 - May 9
I always seek the positives but as with most of the posters I have to make comment on how poor Redmond and Walcott are. Walcott offers absolutely nothing at anytime, Redmond struts around like he’s Messi but contributes nothing and continually gives the ball away. How could Tella be taken off and Redmond remain on the pitch. Che works hard but has to look at himself after yesterday’s performance, he is a good player and will improve. Most of the team play well in patches but why does JWP continually pass negatively which now appears to have been passed onto KWP. I am really starting to question RH but when you are playing with only 8 or 9 contributing then you are always going to come up short. Getting desperate now but it can all change quickly.

thornhill1976 added 19:13 - May 9
All Walcott does is chase his first touch all over the pitch. Redmond has the record for pointless step-overs and then passing it backwards. Stephens should be playing for Eastleigh. JWP has improved. Ings and Armstrong are quality players. The rest of the team is average. Having said that, Ralph’s tactics do not get the best out of what we have. And for those people who think this has been a good season - please get in touch - I have some magic beans I’d like to sell you....

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