Michael Mongie rates Liverpool’s players after the Reds ran out victors at St. Mary’s, with Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino scoring the goals.
Liverpool legend Rafa Benitez did his reputation no harm earlier in the day as he guided his Newcastle side to a tremendous 1-0 win over Manchester United and allowed his former side to go two points within second place.
With the chance to leapfrog Tottenham and go back into third place as well as ensure that the race for second is well and truly on, Liverpool dispatched Southampton 2-0 as Jürgen Klopp’s players turned in a mature performance on the South Coast.
Here’s Michael’s verdict on what was a great game ahead of Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie against Porto on Wednesday evening.
Loris Karius – 9 (MoTM)
The German goalkeeper has been (rightly) criticised in the past with his howler against Bournemouth last season fuelling supporters’ frustration with regards to the former Mainz shot-stopper.
However, two huge saves in the first half ensured that Liverpool didn’t throw away the initiative secured by Roberto Firmino’s crucial opener. With Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in space in the box, Karius came flying out to smother the danger and preserve what eventually turned into a clean sheet.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 8
The 18-year-old is following the example set by Andy Robertson when Alberto Moreno and is doing everything he can to ensure that when Joe Gomez returns to full fitness, Klopp can’t drop him from the side.
Although his long-term future may lie in midfield, Trent used his pace and youthful exuberance to ensure that he was never caught out by the wily Dusan Tadic at right back and was very solid defensively while offering more than enough support going forward.
Jöel Matip – 6.5
Questions remain over whether Matip or Dejan Lovren is the man to partner Virgil van Dijk at the heart of Liverpool’s defence and a moment of hesitation in the box means that these queries will not be going anywhere anytime soon.
Although Matip and his cohorts return to Merseyside with their clean sheet intact, there is no denying that a lack of aggressive defending from the Cameroonian could have been punished.
Virgil van Dijk – 8
It’s necessary to say that he’s still in his honeymoon period where I’m likely to wave away things that I would crucify Matip and Lovren for. That said, the Dutchman is an absolute Rolls Royce of a footballer.
Virgil van Dijk laughing all game, clearing everything and going for a run down the left wing coz he felt like it. What a fella.
— Ste Hoare (@stehoare) February 11, 2018
I couldn’t help but feel giddy when he his face lit up with a cocky little smile when he was first booed by the home crowd. His composure on the ball and aerial ability continued to impress while his relationship with Karius is growing stronger by the game.
Andy Robertson – 8
As I mentioned before, the now settled left back is undroppable after his move from Hull City in the summer and although Alberto Moreno was superb earlier in the season, the Spaniard will have to wait some time before he gets to start for Liverpool regularly again.
As is his wont, Robbo bombed forward to support Sadio Mane and put a few dangerous balls into the box in the second half as the away side really asserted their dominance on Southampton.
Emre Can – 7
The German had a satisfactory game and although he didn’t put a foot seriously wrong, he had a few passes that went astray and he failed to slow play down in the second half and stop Saints from dominating in the way he did.
As a player with the ambition of playing as a holding midfielder for the biggest sides in Europe, Can really needs to get better at controlling the game when there is a shift in momentum as there was after Firmino scored the opener.
His 79% pass accuracy was not good enough and with Liverpool needing some guidance and leadership in the opening 45, the captain on the night needed to step up.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7.5
As far as helping alleviate the pressure in the opening stages is concerned, Wijnaldum didn’t do much better and has now gone traveled 50 times in the Premier League without scoring a goal.
He was, however, good at driving the Reds forward and used his pace and agility to get Liverpool onto the opposite side of the pitch after turning the ball over.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 6.5
Arguably the worst player on the pitch, Chamberlain was somewhat invisible and didn’t offer much.
Until he was substituted for James Milner, the former Arsenal winger let the game pass him by and his performance was a continuation of the awful substitute cameo against Tottenham last week.
Something that Klopp needs to get Chambo to work on is reacting first in the middle of the park. It might be a result of starting his career as a forward but he is rarely the player to win a second ball.
Mohamed Salah – 8.5
It seems that the Egyptian finds the back of the net pretty much every week. With 22 Premier League goals in 27 games this season, Salah is right up there with Kevin De Bruyne as a strong contender for Player of the Season.
The no.11 was the provider for Firmino’s goal in the first half and was a livewire down the right-hand side of the pitch throughout the game.
Roberto Firmino – 8.5
Much like Salah, The Brazilian grabbed an assist and scored a goal. In doing so, he reached 20 goals scored in all competitions for the season. It seems absurd, given the inflation of the current transfer market, that Liverpool signed Firmino for £29 million in 2015.
His importance to Jürgen Klopp’s way of playing cannot be overstated and with 30 goal contributions in all competitions, he is in the form of his life.
Sadio Mané – 8
I was quite happy with how the former Southampton man performed after a spell of poor form. There’s no telling if he’s back to his mercurial best just yet but at St. Mary’s, he looked hungry and ran at defenders a lot more than he has in recent weeks.
As he has been lacking confidence for a while, it’s been hard watching him play against sides that aren’t necessarily going to give Liverpool the platform to play on but he was pacy and had a couple shots on goal.
Manager: Jürgen Klopp – 8
Despite the fact that Southampton looked quite dangerous at times in the first half, Klopp didn’t need to make any important decisions and was able to rest captain Jordan Henderson for Wednesday’s clash with Porto.
The German gaffer relied on Firmino and Salah to get the job done up front and with the pair assisting each other for the game’s only goals, Klopp will be happy with the way the game panned out.