22/02/2015: Saints 0-2 Liverpool
Saints were left frustrated in front of goal once again, losing 2-0 to Liverpool. Ronald Koeman's side were hardly outclassed, but unlike the visitors, didn't take their chances. Liverpool are now just a point behind 5th place Saints.
The game experienced a very high paced start. Saints went on the attack instantly, with Filip Djuricic breaking through in the area before going down for the first of three penalty shouts. A couple of minutes later Liverpool were ahead. Coutinho was given time and space to pick the ball in off the bar from about 30 yards out.
Saints briefly responded to that setback. Djuricic had a blatant penalty shout turned down before Ward-Prowse blasted over on 8. Soon after, the game went a bit flat. Liverpool were content to sit-back and Saints were too slow in moving the ball forward. The home side's best opportunities came from long cross field balls. The game livened up again during the last few minutes. Eljero Elia got beyond the Liverpool backline before Simon Mignolet came out to block the shot. There were a couple of scrambles in the box before the break. The ball struck Dejan Lovren's hand in the area, but once again no penalty was given.
Morgan Schneiderlin came on for Steven Davis at the start of the second half. It was a much needed change, but Saints still struggled to break their opponents down. Graziano Pelle shot wide on 51. Sadio Mane made a bit of an impact after coming on, creating a half-chance for himself. Saints had so much possession, but were hesitant where it really mattered. Liverpool crowded out the penalty area and the hosts struggled to find space to shoot. The adverse weather conditions didn't exactly help either.
Having withstood a fair amount of pressure Liverpool hit back with a killer second goal on 73. Matt Targett slipped and cleared Alberto Moreno's cross straight into the path of Raheem Sterling, who powered his shot through Fraser Forster's grasp. Saints battled during the remaining minutes, but created very little. Dusan Tadic hit a free-kick straight at Mignolet, and Schneiderlin's overhead kick was far too weak to cause any real problems. Saints could have played for the rest of the evening and they still wouldn't have scored.
It was the same old story for Saints going forward. Koeman's team just didn't create enough chances. Having said that, had the referee given us at least one of those penalties, perhaps things could have been different. It's difficult to pinpoint what exactly we need to do to improve our attacking play, but change is certainly needed. With Djuricic coming in and Shane Long returning Saints now have different options going forward. Looking at the table Saints are still very well placed, but we've got no chance of finishing in the top six if we continue to play the way we have in recent weeks.
Forster: 6. As usual, didn't have too many saves to make
Clyne: 6. One excellent burst into the penalty area early on, but overall passable
Fonte: 6. One brilliantly timed challenge in the first-half. Fairly solid on the whole
Yoshida: 7. Made some confident runs out from the back and generally did well
Targett: 6. Did ok until the unfortunate slip. Linked up well down the left flank at times
Wanyama: 7. Looked pretty comfortable protecting the back four
Davis: 5. Well below his best before coming off at half-time
Ward-Prowse: 5. Took up some good positions, but much of the game passed him by
Djuricic: 6. Looked decent in spells. Didn't always make the right decisions, but a great first touch and some good runs into the box
Elia: 6. Showed the odd glimpse of quality
Pelle: 5. Kept very quiet once again
Schneiderlin: 6. A slight improvement on Davis, but not quite at his best
Mane: 6. Dropped for turning up late. Produced a couple of good bits of skill
Tadic: 5. Some decent footwork, but couldn't break down the Liverpool defence
Liverpool - Coutinho (3) Sterling (73)
Attendance - 31,723
Referee - Kevin Friend
Saints: Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Targett, Wanyama, S Davis (Schneiderlin 46), Ward-Prowse (Mane 57), Djuricic (Tadic 75), Elia, Pelle
Subs not used: K Davis, Gardos, Reed, Long
Liverpool: Mignolet, Lovren, Skrtel, Can, Henderson, Allen, Ibe (Johnson 75), Markovic (Moreno 46), Lallana (Sturridge 62), Coutinho, Sterling
Subs not used: Ward, Toure, Balotelli, Lambert