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The good, the injuries and can Villa do it? – Last word on Southampton 1-2 Liverpool

There was yet more admiration for Liverpool after their 2-1 win over Southampton, but how much faith is there in a huge Steven Gerrard favour happening this weekend?

The Reds edged their way to victory at St Mary’s on Tuesday night, as they kept their Premier League title dream alive, as well as the quadruple.

Takumi Minamino and Joel Matip were the goalscoring heroes for Jurgen Klopp‘s side, as they went to within a point of Man City with one game remaining.

Here, This Is Anfield’s Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) is joined by Liam Togher (@liamtogher88) to discuss another gutsy win and look ahead to the final day of the season.

 

The good…

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 17, 2022: Liverpool's Takumi Minamino celebrates after scoring the first equalising goal during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: Klopp certainly rolled the dice with a much-changed line-up, but those who don’t often get their opportunity in the starting XI rose to the fore.

It was Curtis Jones‘ best performance in a long time, Kostas Tsimikas continues to be a perfectly reliable Robbo alternative, Harvey Elliott is an absolute baller and Takumi Minamino must be the most clinical forward in England in terms of goals per minute.

And what a goal it was, too!

Performance of the night goes to Ibrahima Konate, though. We all know he could defend, but in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, he showed that he can be a leader from the back in the legendary Dutchman’s absence.

Oh, and he’s still only 22. What a colossus this man could become over the next decade.

I’ve given shoutouts to some individuals there, but my admiration for the team as a whole is massive. It was only three or four years ago that squad depth felt like our biggest weakness.

This win showed that it is now one of our greatest strengths.

The thought of us changing nine players at such a pivotal juncture in the 2018/19 run-in while we hunted down domestic and European glory would have been incomprehensible.

Not now.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 17, 2022: Liverpool's Ibrahima Konaté heads towards goal during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

HENRY: I’ve never seen a team like this! They just get the job done time and time and time again.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t feel confident about the game before kickoff, what with all the changes and Saints being fresh after a break.

Not for the first time, my pessimism made me look foolish, though, as Liverpool didn’t panic after going behind and got the job done in fairly serene fashion.

As Liam says, it was a night full of strong individual showings – Konate was the standout for me, but honourable mentions to Milner, Jones (improved hugely in the second half), Elliott, Minamino and Firmino.

And then there’s Klopp, who made the right decision with his team yet again.

The job he is doing is beyond remarkable and there will surely be a statue of him at Anfield one day. Just make sure it doesn’t look like Toni Kroos!

A word of praise for the away end, too, who were in fantastic voice all evening, drowning out all the embarrassing, national anthem-singing home fans.

Contrary to what Pep Guardiola says, this potential quadruple is seemingly getting right on the nerves of many around the country.

Drink it in…

 

The injuries…

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 17, 2022: Liverpool's Joe Gomez is treated for an injury during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: Injuries have sadly become a recurring theme this month and they reared their ugly head again, as Joe Gomez had to go off and James Milner soldiered on despite a nasty-looking blow to the ankle.

I heard some strong criticism of Klopp before the game as the lineup was announced, but given what’s at stake and how tired we’ve understandably looked as this marathon of a season approaches its denouement, he had every right to play the percentages.

The knocks to Gomez and Milner prove as such.

As for Southampton‘s goal, while the fume over the foul-that-wasn’t on Diogo Jota is justified, we still had a good 20 seconds – and most of the pitch – to have done a lot more in trying to halt the passage of play which led to Nathan Redmond scoring.

It didn’t cost us here, but it could cost us massively at Anfield next Sunday or in Paris on Saturday week, and is something that Klopp should be impressing on the squad in the coming days.

HENRY: I feel so much for Gomez – it was so innocuous and you feel he is one of those players who is simply hugely unlucky with injuries.

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 17, 2022: Liverpool's Joe Gomez is treated for an injury during the FA Premier League match between Southampton FC and Liverpool FC at St Mary's Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Another lengthy spell out would be horrible to see and I desperately hope he is back as soon as possible.

Quite how Milner got up and played on after his own injury I do not know, because it looked a possible shocker initially.

The man is a machine and his all-round influence at the club cannot be put into words. One more year, please.

There were two more negatives away from injuries: the two Martins!

Atkinson was typically appalling all night, somehow not awarding a free-kick in the lead-up to Redmond’s goal, and it appears as though he has clocked off completely ahead of retirement.

Then there’s Tyler, whose commentary was painful throughout, with his description of Minamino’s strike possibly the most low-key description of a goal you’ll ever hear.

He used to be great and he’s now absolutely woeful. Sky have to get rid of him this summer (they won’t of course).

 

And do you have faith in Gerrard?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, January 22, 2022: Aston Villa's manager Steven Gerrard during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Aston Villa FC at Goodison Park. Aston Villa won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIAM: One thing seems clear from our match against Aston Villa last week – if they lose at the Etihad, it will not be through a lack of effort.

Steven Gerrard will simply not accept anything less from his players than perishing on their shields, irrespective of his long-standing alliance to Liverpool, so I have no concerns about them simply rolling over and being passive guests at a Man City title celebration.

The probability is that they will lose, particularly as City will have an extra determination from their dropped points and poor performance at West Ham.

Just don’t let them have another “Agueroooooo”-esque title triumph this time!

That said, all I ask on Sunday is that we at least take care of our business. Liverpool just need to worry about what’s within their control and see where it leaves them come 6pm.

If we win and so do City, I’ll be disappointed but accept that we couldn’t have done any more. If they both lose or draw, the sense of regret will be agonising.

HENRY: I’ll be honest, as much as I am spending most minutes of every day dreaming about Stevie helping us out, I just can’t see it.

City are so vastly superior to every other team barring Liverpool, and with a whole week off to prepare – Villa play on Thursday night! – they will be full of legs and Guardiola won’t allow another West Ham-like performance.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 16, 2022: Manchester City's manager Josep 'Pep' Guardiola during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Of course, stranger things have happened in football and City do have some defensive issues, but I see easy wins for both them and the Reds, and a disappointing lack of drama on the final day.

If that happens, City will be the deserving champions, but Liverpool should be incredibly proud of their efforts, turning this into a title race nobody expected at Christmas.

Anfield will give Klopp and his players the most wonderful send-off on Sunday, and instead of the fans mourning not winning the league, they will instead bask in the glory of two domestic cup wins and an imminent Champions League final.

Has there ever been a better season?

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