The weekend saw Liverpool take the long road to St Mary’s to face a dangerous Southampton. As it turned out a point apiece was probably a fair result, but that’s no good for the Reds high ambition, and table topping ambition, writes Sam May.
Mané, Firmino and Coutinho spearheaded the attack as usual. What wasn’t usual was the preparation. Between them they had travelled almost 50,000 air miles to fulfill their international duties. Even allowing for private jets and the pampering Premier league stars receive, the traveling miles have an effect, and it showed.
The Reds first half display was substandard as Southampton set a cautious ploy. “Don’t concede early”, and they didn’t. Klopp’s men improved as the game went on, but chance after chance went begging. Gilt edged chances missed showed the jaded minds of the weary globetrotters. If only they had a natural goal scorer, fresh after light international duty and raring to prove a point, up step England’s most natural Daniel Sturridge.
That was the mistake, he was there, warming the bench. Klopp is loyal and that’s a great trait, but even the 60 minute let’s make a change came and went, as did more chances and still no Sturridge. The game needed a piece of inspiration, a moment of magic, or simply a sharp mind to beat the solid Forster between the sticks. It was only when the frustration set in that he was called to action. Just over 10 minutes to play in a 0-0 stalemate, he entered the fray, replacing Can. With the home side not having a single shot on target, Daniel Sturridge could have started alongside the regular front three, or at least at 60 minutes. He almost set up Clyne with a fairytale goal on his return to his old club, but he too wasted yet another must score opportunity. The modern game is a squad game, and Sturridge is still an integral part of the club according to Mr. Klopp, but try telling that to the underused hit man.
Mané may not be unavailable for six weeks in the New Year due to the African Cup of Nations, so here was the perfect opportunity for the team to work a system with him in, at the expense of Mané, who looked sluggish and a yard off his normal electrifying pace.
No doubt the Reds competition would have been pleased with the draw and two points lost. They will be more than pleased if he asks for a January move. Who knows one of them may just take on his services, and football has funny way of coming back to haunt you.