The good, the bad & the skipper – Debating Liverpool 4-0 Southampton

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Liverpool emerged from a tight first half tussle to hit Southampton for four in what was a resounding second-half performance.

Jurgen Klopp‘s chargers continued to lay down markers as they notched their 20th consecutive league win at Anfield to move 22 points clear at the Premier League summit.

It was an encounter which was always going to see Liverpool asked a number of questions, but after weathering the early storm the Reds responded in emphatic fashion to inflict a scoreline on the visitors which was not entirely representative of the game itself.

But that is what this side has proved they can do to another time and time again, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson and Mohamed Salah inflicting the damage to carry momentum into the winter break.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) is joined by Jeff Goulding (@ShanklysBoys1) and Jonathan Higgins (@Jhiggins3) to delve into the positives and negatives from the victory and discuss the skipper.

 

The good…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jeff: In so many ways, this is a team that is setting new standards. The record books are being torn to pieces. Teams we thought would never be surpassed, are being usurped. 1964/65, 78/79, 87/88 are benchmark sides – teams full of legends. 2019/20 just set a new benchmark.

The atmosphere these days is joyous. Patience is a virtue and you get the feeling that even if it was 0-0 with five minutes to go we’d have all been laid back with a pipe and slippers and utterly convinced the winner would come. The Kop rattled through the classics and the players just did their thing.

Any supporter, born after 1990, will have endured years of listening to old men like me, waxing lyrical about the old days. No more. This is their team and it’s better than any team we watched. That’s not an insult to the sides assembled by Shanks, Bob, Joe or Kenny. Instead, it’s the ultimate compliment to the one put together by Jurgen.

In years to come, those Generation X and millennial supporters will be dining out on stories of Klopp’s all-conquering heroes.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jonathan: The second-half performance was yet another example of the relentless character and drive of the team, as they continue to smash up record after record. I seem to say this a lot but its almost becoming a full-time job just keeping track of them all.

There’s not much to discuss in terms of good from the first half aside from acknowledging the best goalkeeper in the world at the moment.

Yet again he showed his invaluable importance to the team. He stayed calm during the hectic Southampton “pressing machine” and almost dug his teammates out of a hole at times. His reaction to that Joe Gomez mistake just before half time was world-class. Oh and yet another clean sheet.

While arguable that Sadio Mane has been the most influential member of the famous front three this season, Firmino and Salah really stepped up to the mark yesterday.

They were just a joy to watch as they combined ultra skill and subtle touches with intense work rate and were just too much for a dogged Southampton defence to handle.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (L) and Southampton's James Ward-Prowse during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joanna: It’s hard to disagree with anything Jeff and Jonathan have said there.
We are witnessing greatness like never before and it sometimes feels, on my end at least, that it’s easy to take for granted.

Winning has become second nature and the nerves have dissipated. In 2013/14 I was rarely on edge heading into a game because I simply knew we could outscore the opposition – clean sheets weren’t a thing back then.

But now, it’s more than that. I heard Liverpool being coined as a Swiss army knife and it’s a great analogy because they can win in a multitude of ways and are never out for the count.

On an individual level, Firmino was simply outstanding and reflected the confidence which is oozing through the team right now, but then you consider the likes of Alisson, Salah and Henderson and you realise that this team is one of superstars who consistently leave you debating over who was the standout.

Seven wins and we’re there – and that’s not even considering City dropping points. Incredible.

 

The bad…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the pre-match warm-up before the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jeff: There’s nothing bad. That’s the thing. Even at 0-0, at half time, nobody doubted for a single second that the Reds would win.

Southampton were not that bad. They played well, created chances. But they were playing the best Liverpool team there ever was. They didn’t stand a chance.

Jonathan: There has been more than its fair share of debate about the infamous Liverpool winter break but the first half, in particular, showed why Klopp will not back down about it.

The team looked flat for large spells of the first half as Southampton played with no fear and absolutely ripped into the game.

So much so that Liverpool uncharacteristically lost their heads at times. Southampton created a number of good opportunities and, being honest, they were very unlucky not to score.

That spell just before half time was as shaky as I have seen Liverpool play at home in a long time. Some of the individual mistakes were unrecognisable and even the rock-solid Gomez Van Dijk partnership fell apart at times.

Certainly more to work on after the winter break!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum (L) and Southampton's James Ward-Prowse during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joanna: I could wax lyrically about this side all day long but it was a weird game all around.

Southampton deserves a tremendous amount of credit and asked more questions of us at home than most sides could only dream of – but unfortunately fell victim to our ruthless streak.

But I do have to agree with Jonathan over the break, the players certainly took a while to get going and a week away will do them the world of good both physically and mentally.

Also, not sure how Firmino being bundled over near the goal-line did not require a closer look…

 

And let’s talk about Henderson’s incredible run of form…

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson (right) celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool. (Peter Byrne/PA Wire/PA Images)

Jeff: In recent years Anfield has often been a place where frustration reigns. The whipping boys often take a beating, and no man has taken more beatings in block 109 than Jordan Henderson.

Today, all that changed. Let me explain. I sit next to a man who (until now) may have been Henderson’s greatest critic.

We almost came to blows last season when I could no longer stomach his constant over the top criticism of our captain. Today, this supporter, a veteran of the Shankly era, turned to me and apologised.

“You know me,” he said. “I’m not Henderson’s greatest fan.” This was an understatement but I simply nodded. “I’ll never criticise him again. He is incredible. He’s everywhere.”

There is almost universal acceptance that Hendo is our captain and more than that, he looks like one. This latter-day critic even joins as the Kop belts out its serenade to our No. 14.

He will never know it. He may not care, but this may actually be Henderson’s greatest achievement. He has silenced his bitterest critics. Not even Ronny Whelan could do that.

He is the pacemaker and the driving force behind the best team on the planet. No man on the pitch wants it more, fights harder or contributes more.

They all come close, but Jordan is out in front like a captain should be. If he doesn’t win PFA player of the year, it will be a travesty.

It won’t matter though, because those that watch him week in, week out, know he’s earned the accolade. Ask the guy who sits next to me in block 109. If Hendo can win him over, there’s nothing he can’t achieve.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 1, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 4-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Jonathan: As Jeff shared, Henderson has had more than his fair share of critics over the years, but his second-half performance showed his invaluable importance to the team.

He drove the team forward with lung-bursting runs and ended with a goal and an assist. He looks every bit of a Liverpool captain right now as his confidence levels are rightfully through the roof.

He has already joined an elite group of European winning captains, it’s not an overreaction to say given what further trophies he will lift with this team he will go down in Liverpool folklore.

There’s no doubt there will be a Liverpool player collecting the PFA Player of the Year award this year. This may seem like a strange thing to say but the biggest influence for me this season has been the collective force of the team not isolated individual performances.

For that reason, it would seem apt as leader of the team that Henderson would receive the award. Plus it would be one hell of a story!

WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Thursday, January 23, 2020: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson celebrates after the FA Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers FC and Liverpool FC at Molineux Stadium. Liverpool wom 2-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Joanna: Jeff’s story there acts as the perfect example for how far we have come as a team and as fans.

Inside the club, he has polarised opinion and certainly out of it as well over the years, at uni I constantly heard my peers question what he brings to both club and country – but there should no doubt about that now.

The image of Henderson’s two fists raised in the air after a win has become synonymous with our run to the title, for me.

Our skipper is playing like a man possessed, leaving nothing to chance and while there are others in our side who are also worthy of winning the PFA Player of the Year award, Henderson definitely deserves to be in the discussion.

I can’t wait to see him lift the title, the Champions League was something I’ll never forget but this one will be different.

Liverpool Mishmash — the history of the Reds in one image.
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