Liverpool dropped points for the third consecutive fixture in the Premier League earlier today as they slumped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against an inspired Southampton side at the St. Mary's Stadium. The Merseyside giants temporarily remain at the top of the table but have now conceded an opportunity to establish a crucial advantage in the title race.
Liverpool were nowhere near their best against Southampton and failed to register a shot on target in the first half. The Saints came up with an exceptionally gritty display and Danny Ings' well-taken goal proved to be the difference between the two teams.
Liverpool labour to morale-sapping defeat against Southampton
Southampton adopted a positive approach to the game and stunned Liverpool in only the second minute, with Stuart Armstrong using his set-piece skills to set Danny Ings up for an exquisite finish. Liverpool pushed ahead in search of an equaliser but found it difficult against a tenacious Southampton outfit.
Southampton stuck to their guns and absorbed pressure from Liverpool for much of the first half. The Saints did have a potent counter-attack up their sleeve and the likes of Nathan Tella and Theo Walcott used their pace to test Liverpool's makeshift defensive line.
The second half followed a similar pattern as Liverpool failed to create clear-cut chances against a Southampton side that was determined to keep a clean sheet. Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah did attempt a few shots in the second half but were unable to trouble Fraser Forster in Southampton's goal.
Southampton maintained their defensive lines towards the end of the game as Liverpool grew frantic in stoppage-time. Jurgen Klopp's side was far below its best in this game and needs to improve by leaps and bounds to defend its Premier League title this season.
Southampton Player Ratings
Fraser Forster - 7/10
Fraser Forster did have a few nervous moments against the Liverpool press in the opening stages of the game but was rarely troubled in the first half-hour. The goalkeeper did make a few important saves and was reliable between the sticks.
Jack Stephens - 6.5/10
Jack Stephens did make a few mistakes against Liverpool's pacy forward line but served as an excellent last line of defence. Stephens played an important role in Southampton's defence in the second half.
Jan Bednarek - 7.5/10
Jan Bednarek was one of the most reliable players on the pitch against Liverpool and held his own against the likes of Salah and Firmino. The centre-back got most of his tackles right and was an imposing presence.
Kyle Walker-Peters - 6.5/10
Kyle Walker-Peters was engaged in a battle with Andrew Robertson on the flank and gave Stuart Armstrong an excellent option as Southampton moved forward. The full-back did lose his position on a few occasions but was able to recover in admirable fashion.
Ryan Bertrand - 7/10
Ryan Bertrand won his battles with compatriot Trent Alexander-Arnold on the flank and was impressive against Liverpool. The former Chelsea defender did curb his attacking instincts in the second half and was an excellent asset.
Ibrahima Diallo - 6/10
Ibrahima Diallo was given his chance ahead of Oriol Romeu against Liverpool and responded with a tenacious and energetic display. Diallo did misplace a few passes but refused to allow Liverpool to settle into a rhythm in the first half.
James Ward-Prowse - 6/10
James Ward-Prowse had a quiet night by his recent standards but performed his role to perfection against Liverpool. The midfielder initiated most of Southampton's counter-attacks and held his own against the Reds midfield.
Stuart Armstrong - 7.5/10
Stuart Armstrong enjoyed an excellent first-half against Liverpool and made an immediate impact on the match with his pinpoint set-piece delivery to create the opening goal. The Scottish midfielder completed a few excellent dribbles and was one of Southampton's best players.
Moussa Djenepo - 6.5/10
Moussa Djenepo worked hard against Liverpool during his 30 minutes on the pitch. The midfielder won several battles in the middle of the pitch and was replaced after he picked up an injury at the half-hour mark.
Theo Walcott - 7/10
Theo Walcott is enjoying something of a resurgence at Southampton at the moment and was a thorn in Liverpool's side today. The English winger created a few scoring opportunities and was a bonafide threat on the counter.
Danny Ings - 7.5/10
Danny Ings is arguably the most effective poacher of goals in the Premier League. The English striker gave Alisson no chance with his brilliant finish and created a few opportunities for the Saints with his smart link-up play in the first half.
Nathan Tella - 6.5/10
Nathan Tella played a significant portion of the game for Southampton and replaced the injured Moussa Djenepo in the first half. The youngster dribbled through the Liverpool defence on one occasion after his introduction but failed to find the back of the net.
Dan Nlundulu - 6/10
Dan Nlundulu came on in place of Danny Ings in the second half to help Southampton manage the game against an increasingly desperate Liverpool outfit.
Yann Valery - 6/10
Yann Valery was a late substitute against Liverpool and did not have enough time to make an impact on the match.