Saturday 10 December 2016

Dominant Liverpool misfire in front of goal as Southampton grab a point

Southampton 0 Liverpool 0

Mark Mann-Bryans

Published 19/11/2016 | 17:09

Southampton's Jose Fonte (left) challenges Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho
Southampton's Jose Fonte (left) challenges Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho

Liverpool were forced to settle for a goalless draw at Southampton on Saturday as they dominated the hosts without being able to find a breakthrough.

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Jurgen Klopp's side remain top of the Premier League, ahead of Manchester City by virtue of scoring more goals, but could be replaced at the summit by Chelsea if the Blues can win at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

The visitors dominated large periods of the contest at St Mary's, as former Saints trio Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane all started for Liverpool.

Roberto Firmino was guilty of missing the best chance to wrap up the points for Liverpool to secure their spot at the top, while Charlie Austin headed wide for Southampton, who offered very little going forward.

Another former Southampton man, Adam Lallana, was missing after picking up an injury in England's draw with Spain on Tuesday night but it was Mane - who scored twice as Ronald Koeman's Saints came from two goals behind to win this fixture 3-2 last season - who had the best chance in the opening half an hour.

The Senegal international hit Georginio Wijnaldum's pass first time only to see Fraser Forster leap to his left and paw his shot away.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

Coutinho, fresh from a stunning goal for Brazil, attempted one of his trademark strikes but could only scuff it wide before Virgil van Dijk did well to prevent Mane breaking through on goal.

The visitors were now on top, with Southampton only offering glimmers on the counter-attack, and Wijnaldum flashed a shot over from 25 yards on the stroke of half-time.

Mark Clattenburg had irked the home fans with a number of decisions in the first half but they were lucky the official did not award Liverpool a penalty right after the interval.

Can, making his 100th appearance for the Reds, lofted a ball over to Roberto Firmino, who had his shirt pulled by Van Dijk and went down, only for Clattenburg to turn away.

Saints skipper Jose Fonte did just enough to put off Coutinho moments later as the forward burst through but shanked a shot well wide as the Portugal international slid in.

Charlie Austin had arguably Southampton's best chance as he headed Cedric's cross wide under pressure from Clyne shortly after Joel Matip had been inches away from connecting with a free-kick to put Liverpool ahead.

Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne reacts to a missed chance
Liverpool's Nathaniel Clyne reacts to a missed chance

Can dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box as Klopp became ever-more animated as he barked instructions from the touchline.

And the German's mood was not helped when Firmino was played in by Coutinho but could only shoot wide when clean-through as he attempted to finish with the outside of his boot.

Daniel Sturridge was introduced and almost provided an immediate impact as he dug out a cross to the back-post which Clyne headed wide.

Forster then kept out Firmino's curling effort as Liverpool failed to muster up a winning goal, although this draw means they remain unbeaten in the league since losing at Burnley in August.

Tweet of the Match:

Former Southampton defender Francis Benali: "Great point for @SouthamptonFC #LFC have scored 40 goals this season, and failed to score in only 2 other games. #SaintsFC."

Star Man - Virgil van Dijk

The Southampton defender was key to this clean sheet for Claude Puel's side, once again making telling interceptions and bossing a defence which he has marshalled so well with Jose Fonte.

He was lucky that a tug on Roberto Firmino's shirt went unnoticed by referee Mark Clattenburg but his all-round performance kept the likes of the Brazilian, as well as team-mates Philippe Coutinho and former Saints man Sadio Mane at bay.

In With The Crowd

There is still no let-up in the Southampton supporters' distain for former defender Dejan Lovren, who left St Mary's for Liverpool under a cloud back in 2014.

He followed Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana in leaving the south-coast for Anfield but his move came after much animosity between Southampton and their then-defender.

Here, he was jeered throughout, with Liverpool's away following cheering to counteract the unwelcoming reception for the Croatia international.

Moan of the Match

This could and should have been one of the game's of the weekend but it failed to live up to the pre-match billing.

It may not have been as hyped as the Manchester United v Arsenal clash earlier in the day but expectations would have been higher than the match that was produced.

Recent clashes here between the pair have been memorable but this one will not fall into that category, even if Liverpool could look back on the point as crucial come the end of the campaign.

Ratings

Southampton -

Fraser Forster 7

Cedric Soares 7

Jose Fonte 7

Virgil van Dijk 8

Ryan Bertrand 7

Oriol Romeu 7

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg 6

Steven Davies 6

Sofiane Boufal 5

Charlie Austin 6

Nathan Redmond 6

Substitutes -

Shane Long (for Boufal, 66) 6

Jay Rodriguez (for Austin, 75) 5

Harrison Reed (for Hojbjerg, 78) 6

Liverpool -

Loris Karius 6

Nathaniel Clyne 6

Joel Matip 7

Dejan Lovren 6

James Milner 7

Jordan Henderson 7

Emre Can 7

Georginio Wijnaldum 6

Sadio Mane 7

Philippe Coutinho 7

Roberto Firmino 6

Substitutes -

Daniel Sturridge (for Can, 78) 6

Divock Origi (for Mane, 90) 5

Who's up next?

Sparta Prague v Southampton (Europa League, November 24)

Liverpool v Sunderland (Premier League, November 26)

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