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Robbo back to best as changes pay off – 5 talking points from Liverpool 4-0 Southampton

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Liverpool were rampant at Anfield once more and had the points wrapped up almost straight from kickoff as they blitzed Southampton to take four goals and three points on Saturday.

Liverpool 4-0 Southampton

Premier League (13), Anfield
November 27, 2021

Goals: Jota 2′ 32′, Thiago 37′, Van Dijk 52′


Changes afoot

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 27, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson passes the rainbow captain's armband to substitute James Milner as he is substituted during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Six alterations to the team from midweek: both full-backs, Virgil, Hendo, Fab and Jota all into the lineup.

Given each of them were varying degrees of very good to excellent, we can probably say Jurgen got his calls spot on in terms of rotation, freshness, form and indeed tactics.

Hopefully, given the absurd schedule ahead between now and when the FA Cup starts, this will be a thing of regularity – in measured amounts.

The mix must be struck between building up game time of those returning, keeping partnerships together and building understanding, and having those in-form deservedly keeping a place in the team.

Good job we have a top boss to manage all that.


Jota looking sharp

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 27, 2021: Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

He scored before two minutes were up, but he had already had an exciting moment before that, dribbling from his own half to the penalty box to lead a counter which looked as though we might get an even earlier lead.

The finish a moment later was good, the movement better, and twice within the next 15 or so a really good first touch and turn from the Portuguese led to further attacks which almost got the Reds in on goal.

There followed one or two sloppy passes when trying to clear his lines defensively, but the positions he gets himself into continue to be both clever and dangerous – as was the case when he tapped in his second, unmarked, from five yards out.

By half-time, the Reds had the top three scorers in the league: Salah on 11, Jota and Mane on seven each, along with Leicester‘s Vardy.

The unstoppable, always scoring Reds – 17 games in a row where we’ve netted twice or more.


Konate a work in progress

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 27, 2021: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté (L) and Southampton's Armando Broja during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another start for Ibrahima Konate and another intriguing showing for several reasons.

There were, again, a few instances early on in the match where perhaps rhythm or understanding – a lack thereof, more to the point – was on show from our new centre-back.

A short throw-in from Trent left him caught between deciding to drop off or jump in to clear; he did neither and was bypassed, eventually doing more or less enough to at least make a shot difficult, which Alisson saved.

A dribble out almost saw him tackled too, and one or two passes went astray when they shouldn’t have – but, again like in midweek, he grew into the game as it went on, was dominant aerially at times and made a big block on Adam Armstrong’s chance to help keep the clean sheet intact.

We saw Alisson give him a quick pat on the shoulder and no doubt a brief word after one early mishap.

Perhaps this is a player slightly low on self-confidence right now due to a lack of regular game time, and as such, the good and not-so-good have to be placed in the context of what is always longer-term progression and trust under Jurgen Klopp.


Left-back management games

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 27, 2021: Liverpool's Andy Robertson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So, Kostas Tsimikas had been, undeniably, the better-performing Liverpool left-back this season out of himself and Andy Robertson.

There have been more than a few calls for the Greek roadrunner to remain in the team on merit, but Klopp made it clear in the buildup to this one that he expected them both to do their job well, push each other…and that Robbo remained his first choice.

Here he was back in the team and back to his brilliant best: aggressive in the tackle, quick to break forward and excellent with his delivery in the final third.

This is the benefit and the balance of squad rotation and competition for places.

Robbo was run into the ground and has a huge mental load to deal with Scotland, too. This recent little break has no doubt done him the world of good, just as watching his team-mate play well and push the need for his own form to improve will have done.

Remember how he first broke into the side? That came after Alberto Moreno‘s best run of form and subsequent injury, and he took his own chance.

That’s what Kostas is trying to do now, and it will push both to be their very best selves – which in turn only benefits Liverpool.


Next up: Rafa and the derby

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 27, 2021: Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk (C) celebrates with team-mate Sadio Mané (R) after scoring the fourth goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Second place for now at least, just one point off Chelsea again.

The pressure is back on them, with a big test against a, well, marginally less-disjointed Man United side who almost have a manager for a little bit in place.

Our focus changes to a former boss of our own, Rafa Benitez, and Everton for the Merseyside derby in midweek.

They play at Brentford on Sunday and haven’t won in six going into that, so we could be facing a wounded and desperate fanbase, or a wounded and desperate fanbase buoyed by a recent and rare positive result.

An extra day to recover, more quality players to call upon and the injury crisis finally abating all makes it super-positive for Reds fans heading into a big game.

Keep that at-least-two-goals-per-game run going and surely we’ll have another three points to celebrate.

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