Liverpool have returned to third place in the Premier
League table but only after James Milner missed a
penalty in a goalless draw with Southampton.
In a poor game, Milner saw his spot kick excellently saved by Fraser Forster as Liverpool failed to make much of an impact against a resolute Saints defence.
After Manchester City’s 5-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Saturday, the onus was on Jurgen Klopp to send his side out to look for three points against a Southampton team who have largely under- performed this season.
However, after resisting the temptation to hand a
start to Adam Lallana , Jurgen Klopp witnessed his
players offer very little threat during a first half
which further highlighted their lack of creativity and
variety without the England international and Sadio
Liverpool were restricted to a number of long-range
efforts on goal through Philippe Coutinho, Roberto
Firmino and Emre Can but each of the shots were
easily saved by Forster.
Southampton looked comfortable in soaking up
pressure from their hosts, but they were offering
nothing in the final third with Manolo Gabbiadini
and Sofiane Boufal both off the pace.
There was an expectancy that Klopp would tinker
with his team at half time, but the German decided
to keep with the same players and system as he
placed more emphasis on trying to control the
game rather than chase it.
If anything, though, Southampton offered more
threat after the break and were starting to trouble
Liverpool from set pieces but shortly after the hour
mark, Liverpool were gifted a penalty.
The referee correctly pointed to the spot when the
ball hit Jack Stephens’s arm but despite James
Milner’s well-struck spot kick, Forster pulled off a
brilliant save down to his right.
Klopp eventually opted to introduce both Lallana and Daniel Sturridge with 21 minutes remaining, but
there was already a feeling that it was too little too
late for the home team.
It did not take long for Sturridge to get involved in
the action with a sharp turn on the edge of the penalty area, but he could only poke the ball straight at Forster.
Moments later, he dragged a 20-yard strike into the
side-netting as he looked to inject some enthusiasm into the Liverpool attack, while Lallana also tried his luck from outside the box without any reward.
Liverpool continued to press, with Can seeing a
deflected effort go just wide and Coutinho being
denied by a spectacular save by Forster from a
header, but when Klopp looks back at this game, he
may recognise that he did not act fast enough with
his substitutions when there was an inevitably that
the game was heading towards a stalemate.
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