01/03/2014: Saints 0-3 Liverpool

Saints were given a footballing lesson by an impressive Liverpool outfit. The home side matched up reasonably well with their opponents in the first half, but were made to pay for a couple of missed chances. Liverpool were a class above for most of the second-half, with Saints never looking like they were capable of getting back into it after the second goal.

Liverpool came storming forward right from kick-off, exuding frightening levels of energy. Saints were fairly cautious in the early going. Wide-men Steven Davis and Adam Lallana tucked in fairly deep when the visitors had the ball, while full-backs Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw weren't quite as gung-ho as usual either. The home side looked fairly well organised defensively early on, but Liverpool's movement was so good that they still managed to create a few chances. The first 15 minutes or so was played at an incredibly high tempo, with much of the action being contested in the centre of the park, with both teams pressing well.

Luis Suarez looked to be in for a simple chance on 7 minutes, only for Jose Fonte to brilliantly step in and clear away for a corner. The Uruguayan made no mistake 9 minutes later, scoring from just inside the area, having combined with Daniel Sturridge. In between, the ball had bounce off Fonte following a tackle from Lallana. It was an unfortunate goal to concede, but it would be extremely harsh to blame either player.

Suarez had a free-kick fly over the bar, just before Liverpool began to sit off slightly. Saints were probably the slightly stronger of the two sides during the final 20 minutes of the first half. Several chances arrived for the home side, none greater than the one that fell to the skipper on 32. Lallana was played in by Lambert's knock-down in the penalty area, and had tucked the ball past Simon Mignolet, only to see it come back off the post. Later on Rodriguez forced the keeper into a great save.

Pochettino threw on Gaston Ramirez for Steven Davis at the start of the second-half. Saints looked a lot more fluid as a result, but only for a short period of time. Ramirez weaved his magic a couple of times, beating his man with a series of mazy dribbles and kept things moving with quick passing. Saints had a couple of corners, but only managed a series of half-chances, before Liverpool regained control.

Liverpool's first substitute made an even bigger impact than Ramirez did. Raheem Sterling came on for Coutinho on 57, and had doubled the away side's advantage within a minute. Suarez got away from Dejan Lovren with a rapid burst of pace, before squaring for Sterling, who had a simple finish. Liverpool looked very comfortable from that point, with Saints offering little in the way of an attacking threat. Artur Boruc tipped round the post from a low Steven Gerrard drive. The same two players came face to face again in stoppage time after Fonte had hauled down Suarez in the penalty area. Gerrard made no mistake from the spot, placing the ball into the top corner.

It's difficult to fault Saints too much for effort or the way in which they approached the game. Once again the thing that let Pochettino's side down was a lack of clinical finishing. If Lallana's first half shot had been a couple of inches inside the post then perhaps things might have turned out differently. Liverpool were extremely impressive, and well deserving of their win by the end though. There's no shame in losing to a great side like that, but that doesn't change the fact that Saints need to address their attacking options. A new striker should be high on the priority list in the summer. It's sad to say it, but if Rickie Lambert's recent form is anything to go by, then it's not inconceivable that the England striker could be looking at a more reduced role next season. He shouldn't be completely cast aside, but it may well be time to build the attack around some fresh faces.

Attendance: 31,659 (3,186 Liverpool fans)

Match Ratings:

Boruc: 6. Made a couple of fairly decent saves. Couldn't really be blamed for any of the goals conceded

Chambers: 6. A pretty solid outing. Made his way out of some tight situations with some decent skill. Didn't have much of a chance to get forward after half-time

Fonte: 6. Played really well early on, with one particularly brilliant interception ahead of Suarez early in the game. Made a couple of mistakes late in the game as Liverpool started to create more chances

Lovren: 6. Made a decent enough start, showing little sign of ring rust, but errors started to creep into his game later on

Shaw: 6. Far from his best showing. Didn't use the ball that well, but a few moments of quality

Cork: 7. Another very good showing. Strong in the tackle, and got things moving in the Liverpool half

Schneiderlin: 6. Had a fairly good first half, but a bit sloppy after the interval. Not as dominant in midfield as you would expect

Davis: 6. Positioning was very good. Covered a lot of ground. Delivery could have perhaps been a bit better

Lallana: 7. Worked incredibly hard for the team, contributing as much defensively as he did going forward. Just missing a goal

Lambert: 6. Some good link-up play in the first-half, but pretty much anonymous after the break

Rodriguez: 5. A couple of rapid bursts early on, but once again didn't really do enough in the final third

Substitutes:

Ramirez: 6. Did open things up immediately after coming on, making space in the final third, but couldn't sustain it for the entire 45

Wanyama: A bit sluggish. Didn't really get up to speed with the game

Gallagher: Didn't get the service