Saints secured their first win in four, with a convincing display against Liverpool. The home side had the better of their opponents for the majority of the match and fully deserved to come away with all three points.
Liverpool looked strong in the opening few minutes, moving the ball about very quickly. Saints soon took control however. The home side pressed superbly throughout the first half, but were also devastating in possession. Saints' efforts were rewarded with a goal after just 5 minutes. Gaston Ramirez's deep cross was headed across goal by Jay Rodriguez, with Morgan Schneiderlin flicking the ball into the side of the net past Brad Jones. Schneiderlin had made one of his long trademark runs into the box. The hosts continued to dominate, never allowing Liverpool a moment's peace on the ball. Rickie Lambert really should have made it 2-0 when he was put through one-on-one with Jones. Lambert had started the game wide on the right, in a very fluid formation. Saints began the game without an out-an-out centre forward. Both Lambert and Rodriguez drifted inside at times later in the half. Midfield duo Schneiderlin and Jack Cork were absolutely everywhere, sweeping up in defence, with the former also supporting in attack.
The first half was played at an incredibly high tempo throughout. Saints exuded bags of energy, but were also tactically superb. Whenever someone from the home side had the ball there were always a multitude of options to utilise. When Liverpool had the ball, Saints quickly closed down any space. Pochettino's men were 2-0 up on 33 minutes. Rickie Lambert's free-kick took a heavy deflection off of the wall, before beating Jones.
Saints continued to turn the screw during the next 10 minutes and really should have put the game out of sight. Rodriguez was heavily involved in a number of first half efforts. His movement was superb, but his finishing was lacking. Just before Lambert's strike, he had blasted over, having received the ball from Lallana with his back to goal. Later in the half he took down a long ball with his right foot, before getting beyond Martin Skrtel and firing agonisingly wide. Liverpool were made to look worse than they were by Saints, but still produced the odd moment of brilliance. Coutinho sprung the offside trap before missing his one-on-one with Artur Boruc. The visitors then grabbed a scarcely deserved goal just before the break. The ball was played across goal for Daniel Sturridge, who turned before having his shot blocked. Coutinho then blasted in on the rebound.
Liverpool were expected to be a lot stronger during the second half, with Lucas Leiva replacing the ineffective Joe Allen. The game was still very much in the balance for 35 minutes, but Liverpool's end product was poor. Saints produced some slick and incisive play in and around the box, although there weren't quite as many chances. Luke Shaw made a brilliant driving run down the left, before being tackled. The ball fell back to Schneiderlin, who played in Lallana. The captain turned on the ball, before testing Jones. Saints did eventually wrap things up on 80 minutes. Rodriguez picked up the ball in the centre circle, before embarking on a long run forward. He remained unchallenged until he approached the penalty area. Rodriguez got the better of Skrtel before getting his shot away. He found the back of the net on the rebound, having had his initial effort saved.
A brilliant win and performance from Pochettino's men. Just as they had done against Manchester City, Saints dominated a top Premier League outfit and made them look extremely ordinary. It puts us in a great position in terms of the fight for survival. QPR aside, the performances under Pochettino have been pretty good. This was the least we deserved. We really do look a proper Premier League side now. Our pressing style is ideally suited to playing against footballing teams, so the result wasn't a major surprise. The pace and movement with which we played going forward was what was really impressive though. Saints often struggled to break teams down earlier in the season, but that wasn't the case on this occasion. Surely we have more than enough to secure survival and push up the table. We just need to learn how to adapt our style against the lesser teams who approach the game differently.
Attendance: 32,070 (3,163 Liverpool fans)
Boruc: 8. Dealt with numerous potentially sticky situations with ease
Clyne: 8. Another monster display. Defensively near faultless. Brilliant going forward too
Yoshida: 8. Timing and positioning near perfect throughout
Hooiveld: 7. Lucky to be rewarded with a free-kick when he slipped over, but otherwise fairly solid. A shame to see him forced off injured
Shaw: 8. Aside from one sloppy piece of play very early on, an excellent display. Showing maturity beyond his years, easy to forget he's still only 17
Cork: 8. Tactically superb. Shielded the back four expertly, whilst working his way out of tight situations with the ball
Schneiderlin: 8. Another incredible showing. Has an incredible engine. Always there to snuff out danger and get things moving
Lallana: 8. Back to his very best. Liverpool struggled to cope with his superb footwork
Ramirez: 7. Worked hard throughout, and provided a brilliant cross for the opener. Not everything he tried came off, but still a solid showing
Rodriguez: 8. Unlucky not to score before he did. Squandered some good chances, but always getting into good positions
Lambert: 8. Scored a goal, but there was so much more to his game than that. Brilliantly created space for Rodriguez by pulling off into wide areas
Fonte: 8. One brilliantly timed interception towards the end of the first half summed up his display
Davis: 7. A steadying influence in midfield
Guly: Some decent pressing at the end of the game