Although the latest Liverpool performance was a poor one, the result boils down to one crucial difference between the two teams.
Southampton took their one created chance in the centre of the box, whilst Liverpool failed to do likewise:
The lack of creativity by Rodgers’ team is a real concern at present; having created seven open play chances in the centre of the box in the first eighty-six minutes of the opening day win over Stoke City, Liverpool have only created six in the 364 minutes played since then. I have noted previously that the Reds are far more creative when Luis Suárez plays, and his return to the side can not come soon enough.
The Reds only had two shots from the centre of the box against the Saints, putting both off target (with Sturridge and Luis Alberto the guilty parties), and all but one of their on target efforts came from outside the box, so it’s no surprise they failed to score:
In fact, this was only the second time in nineteen Premier League appearances for Liverpool that Daniel Sturridge has failed to put a shot on target (with QPR on the final day of last season the other), though he did at least set Raheem Sterling up with a very good chance at the death.
It’s also hugely worrying that following the Southampton goal, Liverpool had thirty-seven minutes (plus stoppage time) to get back into it, yet only managed four shots with one on target in this period, whilst the visitors had five with three testing the goalkeeper:
The running theme this season has been that Liverpool have surrendered possession when in the lead; the Reds only had 27.6% of the possession after taking the lead at Swansea, for instance.
Yet for the forty minutes following the winning goal, Brendan Rodgers’ side were only able to dominate the possession count to the tune of 52.6%, which probably explains why they were not able to force Southampton back and create decent opportunities; they simply didn’t have enough of the ball:
- An incredible sixteen tackles, with thirteen won, and much like Glen Johnson against Manchester United, Clyne won tackles in all three thirds of the pitch and also his own penalty area. To give Clyne’s tackle total some context, I was informed by @stemc74 that the most by a Liverpool player in the last five years is fourteen.
- An interception in the final third of the pitch, which is clear evidence of high pressing.
- A key pass to assist a shot.
- Two successful dribbles.
A bad day at the office for Brendan Rodgers and his charges then, but Southampton deserve all the credit here, for executing a game plan to perfection. Bill Shankly once sarcastically noted “Ay, here we are with problems at the top of the league”, but for the current Liverpool team that’s exactly what the situation is. Just an easy game at Old Trafford in the League Cup next… (gulp).