Thiago’s big step & where’s Taki? – 5 things fans are talking about after Southampton 1-0 Liverpool

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Liverpool slumped to a 1-0 defeat to Southampton on Monday night, with questionable refereeing decisions and the need for a centre-back the focus after the game.

The Reds were looking to produce a response to back-to-back draws as they arrived at St Mary’s, only to suffer an even worse result as Danny Ings struck the fatal.

It is only the second league defeat of the campaign, and leaves Liverpool still top of the table – albeit having played a game more than Man United – which highlights the strong position Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain in.

But it is a worrying run of form, and after the loss, fans were left picking apart the positives and negatives on social media.

 

That ref…

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 9, 2019: Referee Andre Marriner during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Burnley FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Where else can we start?

Andre Marriner was already showing signs of a poor night before things really got going in the second half, but the number of challenges overlooked by the referee and his VAR was bordering on ridiculous.

There were, of course, the penalty shouts – namely Jack Stephens’ handball and Kyle Walker-Peters’ foul on Sadio Mane – but there were other, less directly impactful moments too.

Chief among these was a two-footed challenge from Theo Walcott on James Milner that failed to win the ball but also failed to be recognised as a foul of any kind.

To focus on refereeing decisions after a game in which Liverpool recorded just one shot on target may be seen as sour grapes, but it was a strange, strange night for Marriner.

 

A step forward for Thiago

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 4, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp speaks with Thiago Alcantara during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

Onto a positive, and that comes in the form of Thiago‘s first start since October.

The Spaniard’s return to the side at Newcastle last time out was met with positivity, and despite the result, Klopp was clearly impressed with Thiago‘s cameo at St James’ Park.

At St Mary’s, the summer signing built on these small signs with another productive display, and lasting the full 90 minutes is hugely encouraging.

No doubt Thiago will be a first-choice starter from here on out.

 

Putting the Trent stat into context

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 4, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (R) and Trent Alexander-Arnold during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by Propaganda)

It is hard to ignore that it was a bad night for Trent Alexander-Arnold, with the fact Milner was chosen to take his place in the 77th minute serving as evidence that Klopp felt the same.

After the game, it was pointed out that the right-back lost the ball 38 times at St Mary’s, which is more than any other player in the Premier League this season.

While it is certainly not a positive statistic, Liverpool writer Sam McGuire attempted to put it into context with the high-risk approach the Reds were required to take:

This is supported by the fact that those who have lost possession most in the Premier League since 2016/17 are all full-backs, as highlighted by Squawka:

It is almost in the job description for a full-back, therefore, and particularly for one playing for Liverpool, as This Is Anfield’s James Nalton pointed out:

Trent will need to improve, for sure, but this particular statistic appears to be a red herring.

 

Minami-who?

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 13, 2020: Liverpool's substitute Takumi Minamino during the FA Premier League match between Fulham FC and Liverpool FC at Craven Cottage. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

For the third game running, where was Takumi Minamino?

Given Taki scored in his last outing – a start on the left in the 7-0 thrashing of Crystal Palace – it is confusing as to why he has been overlooked in the following three games.

Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino continue to struggle, but Klopp again omitted the only other forward to find the back of the net for Liverpool since November 28.

 

Oh and centre-backs, of course

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Monday, January 4, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson looks dejected during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. Southampton won 1-0. (Pic by Propaganda)

More evidence of the need for a new centre-back?

Monday night saw Klopp field his 10th different defensive pairing in just 17 league games this season, with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson an able but far-from-ideal duo.

After the game, Jamie Carragher argued that he “can’t see Liverpool winning the league if they don’t bring a centre-back in,” and it is certainly a convincing case.

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