Liverpool were put to the test but four goals in the second half clinched a 4-0 win over Southampton, moving the Reds 22 points clear.
Liverpool 4-0 Southampton
Premier League (25), Anfield
February 1, 2020
Oxlade-Chamberlain 47′ (assist – Firmino)
Henderson 60′ (assist – Firmino)
Salah 72′ (assist – Henderson)
Salah 90′ (assist – Firmino)
Jurgen Klopp expected “a pressing machine” at Anfield before the game, with the Saints tipped to ask the type of questions West Ham failed to do so last time out – and they did just that but like so many before them, they could not stop the red machine.
With consistency in the XI a hallmark of Klopp’s selection in recent times, a single change was all that was required as Fabinho returned to the league lineup from the off for the first time since mid-November.
It was a move which saw Jordan Henderson shift back to his more advanced role in midfield, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was shuffled to the left-flank to accommodate such changes.
A high-octane tussle ensued, with the Saints consistently looking to isolate both Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk – with ex-Red Danny Ings and Moussa Djenepo acting as the focal points of their attack.
The former twice had sight of goal in the first 45 but failed to land the decisive blow against his former side, but Liverpool’s defence continually found the answers amid ever-present pressure they had scarcely faced at Anfield throughout the season to date.
Alisson’s quick decision making and strong hands proved key as the Reds struggled to find their rhythm as wayward passes consistently gave the Saints a reprieve.
A penalty shout the way of Roberto Firmino after he was bundled down near the goal-line surprisingly came of nothing, while Mohamed Salah and Gini Wijnaldum both saw their shots fail to test Alex McCarthy in a first-half with little to write home about for Liverpool.
HT: Liverpool 0-0 Southampton
There was little time to take a breather straight after the interval, however, with Ings firstly aggrieved over Fabinho‘s tackle in the box as he looked to have wormed his way through, with the Reds quickly progressing up the field with devastating effect.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was the benefactor with his second goal in as many games, rifling a strike into the near corner after expertly finding space on the edge of the area to make it 1-0.
And for all of Southampton‘s effort, one soon became two as Firmino was again on hand with a poised cut back to his skipper, with Jordan Henderson duly obliging in finding the net.
He then turned provider with a sumptuous curled pass with Salah, who had a brilliantly worked team goal ruled out for offside earlier in the piece, on hand to dink McCarthy from close-range, turning what was a tight tussle into a rout.
Naby Keita, Takumi Minamino and Adam Lallana were all handed minutes late on with the result all but secured, where Firmino secured a hat-trick of assists at the death with Salah on the receiving end as Klopp’s men moved a staggering 22 points clear after collecting their 20th successive league win at Anfield.
TIA Man of the Match: Roberto Firmino
Referee: Kevin Friend
Liverpool: Alisson; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson (Lallana 88′), Wijnaldum (Minamino 81′); Salah, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Keita 73′)
Subs not used: Adrian, Matip, Lovren, Origi
Southampton: McCarthy, Ward-Prowse, Stephens, Bednarek, Bertrand, Djenepo (Boufal 82′), Romeu, Hojbjerg, Redmond, Long (Obafemi 70′), Ings (Adams 70′)
Subs not used: Gunn, Danso, Vestergaard, Smallbone
Next Match: Shrewsbury (H) – FA Cup Fourth Round Replay – Tuesday, Feb 4, 8pm (GMT)