21/09/2013: Liverpool 0-1 Saints
Saints claimed an impressive 1-0 win at Anfield, with a high efficient display. Mauricio Pochettino's game plan worked to perfection, particularly in the second-half. The victory temporarily moved us up to 5th (We've since been overtaken by Chelsea and Manchester City)
Saints were unchanged from the side that drew with West Ham the previous week. Pochettino's men set out fairly cautiously in the first half, with Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama rarely straying from their positions just in front of the back four. Adam Lallana and Jay Rodriguez were also forced to track back more than usual. Liverpool certainly weren't at their best, but probably just about edged it in the first half, although neither side created too many chances. Jordan Henderson fired an early effort straight at Boruc. The Pole then made a fine fingertip stop from a Steven Gerrard free-kick. Boruc made yet another stunning save from Victor Moses later in the half. The Chelsea loanee cut in from the left-wing, beating a number of players before seeing his shot clipped over. The home side moved the ball about fairly quickly, but couldn't find the breakthrough before the interval, with Sturridge heading just over before the half-time whistle.
Saints began the second-half a lot more positively. The visitors prevented Liverpool from playing out from the back by aggressively closing down. The early pressing was almost immediately rewarded. Saints took advantage of panic within the Liverpool defence, with Jay Rodriguez testing Simon Mignolet. The Belgian was then put under pressure by Lallana, before eventually clearing the ball away. Saints didn't have to wait too much longer for the breakthrough to arrive. On 53 Lallana's corner was headed across goal by Dejan Lovren. Gerrard couldn't prevent the ball from going over the line. Liverpool were unable to crank up the pressure in the immediate aftermath. In fact, it was Saints who looked the more likely to add to the scoring. Pochettino's side superbly exploited Liverpool on the counter on several occasions. Dani Osvaldo brilliantly evaded the challenge of a number of players before shooting at Mingolet. The keeper then denied Luke Shaw with a triple save. The full-back had completed a fine individual run, weaving his way into the box before testing the keeper. Liverpool were poor in the final third and struggled to create too many clear cut openings. Jose Fonte brilliantly cut out a cross late on. In the end Saints saw the game out surprisingly comfortably.
In theory our most difficult test to date, given Liverpool's start to the season. The result shouldn't have come as too much of a surprise however. Pochettino has consistently done well against the 'bigger' Premier League teams who tend be a bit more open in the way they set up. The pressing system worked wonders yet again. Saints were ridiculously well organised at the back. We stifled Liverpool in the areas that mattered. You would have expected a nail-biting finish, but it never really came. The goal did arrive from a set piece once again, but we did look a lot more cohesive going forward than we have done previously. Osvaldo was very sharp, although at times he was almost too clever for some of his teammates. Lambert was less effective, and there may well come a time when Pochettino has to choose between the two. I haven't agreed with every decision the Argentinian has made this season, but at Anfield he got it spot on. All three substitutes played their part in killing the game off, and his tactics throughout the game were perfect .It's not often we win away at a big club like Liverpool, so watch it back and take it all in. A truly great day to be a fan.
Boruc: 8. Made a series of incredible saves to keep Saints in the game
Clyne: 8. Timing and intelligence as brilliant as ever
Lovren: 9. A goal and a near perfect display at the back. Always in the right place at the right time
Fonte: 8. Positioning and bravery top notch. Late interception absolutely vital
Shaw: 8. Very unfortunate not to have scored.
Wanyama: 7. Got some stick from the crowd which was slightly unfair. While it's true he did give away possession more than he should have, he also did a fine job of protecting the back with a sound tactical display.
Schneiderlin: 8. Back to his dynamic best
Lallana: 7. Helped launch a series of counter attacks in the second half with some bursting runs and provided the set-up for the goal
Rodriguez: 6. Didn't get on the ball too much, but early second half pressing important
Lambert: 6. Another fairly quiet afternoon for the centre forward
Osvaldo: 7. Some superb movement and skill. Coming along well
Davis: 7. Made a great impact. Heavily involved at both ends of the pitch
Ward-Prowse: Shored things up on the right
Cork: Helped close out the game during the final few minutes
Saints - Lovren (53)
Referee: Neil Swarbrick
Liverpool: Mignolet, Toure, Agger (Enrique, 57), Skrtel (Alberto, 72), Sakho, Gerrard, Aspas (Sterling, 45), Lucas, Moses, Henderson, Sturridge
Subs not used: Jones, Kelly, Ibe, Wisdom
Saints: Boruc, Clyne, Fonte, Lovren, Shaw, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Lallana (Ward-Prowse, 76), Rodriguez (Cork, 89), Lambert (S Davis, 66), Osvaldo
Subs not used: K Davis, Chambers, Hooiveld, Ramirez