No question, there was an enormous amount of head-shaking after this game. Liverpool had been second-best for much of the time, yet had emerged as four-goal victors.
From the start, it was easy to see how Southampton had developed such a good record over recent weeks. They were like bees around a hive, buzzing everywhere without any apparent strategy except to nullify the opposition and cause maximum disruption.
In terms of offensive play, Ings and Long were left pretty much alone up front, but the pair played off each other to such effect that they had a big unsettling effect on both van Dijk and Gomez.
If the visitors only had it in them to put the ball in the net, a truer reflection of the game might have ensued.
At half-time the Main Stand concourse was a picture of such consternation that there was genuine concern the Reds’ unbeaten record was in jeopardy. What could Klopp do to alter things?
The Manager’s sole change – apart from telling his charges to stop being so sloppy – was to move Fabinho further forward. We didn’t have chance to see whether that was a telling move since, inside 90 seconds, Ox altered the whole mood with a well-taken strike which, not only took visiting keeper McCarthy completely by surprise, but also just about every spectator in the ground as well.
I’d speculated during the first half that even if the Reds had scored, Southampton tactics were such they’d not have changed the way they played come what may. And so it proved.
For the whole 90+ minutes, the visitors harassed Liverpool and created openings only to hold back when a shot seemed on. Gomez in particular, cut out several openings near to goal and continues to excel.
The most interesting element of the game was Firmino’s performance. By his own standards, he did not have a good game overall, regularly failing to control the ball at crucial moments and laying the ball off sloppily. Yet, alongside these failings, he was instrumental in three of Liverpool’s goals playing in Ox, Hendo and Mo Salah with sublime moments of skill.
At times, it is so hard to quantify Bobby’s worth, but in the overall state of affairs, the notion that a goal is the ultimate achievement in a game of football, that element of his game is worth its weight in gold!
And so, we move on, ever closer to the holy grail. Yesterday in the final moments, there was once again that incredible surge of noise and a singing of that song which, until just two weeks ago had been unofficially banned by the fans themselves. (Actually there are three versions now)
I think we’ve all now accepted the inevitable. Every aspect of common logic says that the notion of Liverpool losing seven of the last thirteen games is not feasible. (After today’s loss by City, we win six and we’re there!)
Of course, statistically, it could happen – we could lose seven – but surely even the most pessimistic of kopites would need to believe in dragons and goblins and I could so easily be one of that number.
However, even I’m singing the song now – and with ever increasing gusto!