Liverpool were back at Anfield for the penultimate home game of the season and this time did see out a victory, beating Southampton 2-0 to keep alive their top-four hopes.
Liverpool 2-0 Southampton
Saturday, 8 May 2021
Anfield, Premier League
Goals: Mane 30′, Thiago 90′
Alisson – 9 (out of 10) – Man of the Match
An absolutely huge save one-on-one, moments before the Reds took the lead.
Took aerial balls well from dangerous Ward-Prowse deliveries and was a real presence, calm and authoritative, behind another makeshift defence. Made a tremendous tackle inside his own box just past the hour mark and palmed a fierce drive over soon after.
Did gift a chance to Che Adams with a poor pass out – but immediately made up for it with a good save low down from the striker’s shot.
After a wobble in form not too long ago, he looks somewhere back to his best.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
The right-back got forward to good effect at times, though the delivery was a little hit and miss.
Tracked his man well defensively, covered across behind the centre-backs when he needed to and some dangerous set-pieces were sent over, too.
Nat Phillips – 7
A big aerial presence at the back in the first half, and nodded one just wide at the other end, too.
Does perfectly well with the ball at his feet and made a few progressive passes into midfield, though can get dragged out of position rather easily in the middle still.
Rhys Williams – 5
Caught on quite a few passes in behind on his return to the team – but let’s be honest, the high line the Reds still play does not overly lend itself to an inexperienced pairing at the back whose assets do not really include acceleration.
On the other hand, some of them were simple balls around the edge of his own box which he struggled to either read or change his body shape to intercept.
Andy Robertson – 7
Much more forceful in his forward running and overlaps, with some really nice combination play on his part going forward.
Didn’t always get the return pass he wanted, though.
Defensively, pretty solid in one-on-one situations, though maybe could have done with being safer at times in picking his moments to race forward, given the uncertain duo at centre-back.
Fabinho – 7
Saw plenty of the ball as ever and tried to make some creative forward passes to split the defence, though they didn’t always come off.
His efforts in protecting the defence were much-needed at times, particularly in shutting down Armstrong’s forward runs.
Thiago Alcantara – 7
A frustrating outing for the Spanish midfielder, who at times controlled the play for the Reds and looked as smooth as ever on the ball – but was lacking in his positional play and defensive work rate out of possession.
The boss wasn’t happy with him a few times in the first half and in the second he let a loose ball roll out of play for a Saints throw-in – only to watch team-mate Mo Salah sprint 20 yards to keep it on the pitch.
And yet, all that might not matter much – because it was he who ensured the points would be the Reds’, firing his first goal into the bottom corner as the clock ticked past 90′.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
A typically quiet and uneventful game for the most part for the No. 5, though he was only an inch or a touch off a much bigger impact a few times.
Too often he was easily bypassed in midfield and watched the Saints runners fly past him, while he didn’t really look to force the issue for the second goal either.
On the other hand, he hit the bar with a first-half header and was involved in some flowing moves down the left – even if his control let him down here more than once.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Brilliant clipped cross for the assist on Mane’s goal, though should have buried a chance of his own a few minutes later, rounding the ‘keeper but failing to find the angle on the finish.
A lashed effort in the second half would have burst the net if not for a good defensive block.
Great work rate and a fine all-round showing, even without him finding the net this time.
Sadio Mane – 7
A most welcome goal at Anfield for the No. 10 – his first of 2021 – and a fine run and header it was too.
However, it didn’t really spark him into life with a virtuoso performance that we’ve missed for a long time; Mane spent a lot of the second half complaining that the referee didn’t give him free-kicks and evading one or two challenges, but then failing to complete a pass.
Diogo Jota – 5
A similar performance to several recent outings for Jota, in that he had a couple of moments which might have been dangerous – but ultimately didn’t have a great overall game.
Early on he was a help in the high, often four-man press, intercepting a few passes and helping to launch counters, but in the final third he’s as off the boil now as he was on fire soon after joining.
A scuffed finish wide of the near post seconds before being subbed summed up his evening. A sixth game without a goal for the Portuguese.
Roberto Firmino (on for Jota, 78′) – 6 – The odd moment of closing down, a cheeky back-heel to nobody and an assist for Thiago late on.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (on for Salah, 86′) – n/a – Brought on to lock down the flank late on.
Curtis Jones (on for Mane, 90+2′) – n/a – Did well to get a touch.
Subs not used: Adrian, Tsimikas, Shaqiri, Woodburn, N. Williams, Koumetio.
Jurgen Klopp – 7
Spent an awful lot of the first half roaring at Thiago to filter wide or track back, while also encouraging his centre-backs every time they made a clearance.
The boss has already said he won’t be chopping and changing the midfield much, so the line-up as a whole wasn’t much of a surprise.
His subs were similarly of-the-norm variety, Firmino for Jota and Ox for Salah just for freshness in closing down, though it’s fair to say the boss’ options were limited by injuries to Milner, Naby, Kabak and the like.
Getting over the finish line was all-important this time as the Reds approached the final five minutes with a one-goal lead again.
Thankfully, that’s exactly what happened: another late goal in our games, but this time in our favour.