Liverpool slumped to their first defeat of the season at the hands of Southampton, courtesy a 53rd minute goal from Dejan Lovren. The difference could have been much more, if not for the brilliant Simon Mignolet, who saved some brilliant attempts from the visitors. Liverpool struggled to pose any serious threats in front of goal too. We take a look at some of the areas that have been decisive at making this outcome from Liverpool’s perspective.
The defence line selection- It was a rare occasion for the Merseyside club as they fielded four centre backs in the match and the full backs started on the bench. Glen Johnson’s injury saw Andre Wisdom take the field against Swansea on Monday, but his performance changed Rodgers’ mind. The manager decided to field Daniel Agger, who just returned from injury, but not Jose Enrique at left back, and it was not until they conceded a goal that Enrique took the field. Liverpool badly missed both these men’s run down the flanks, and thus lacked a definite punch today.
A lack of quality at the centre- Luis Suarez was already serving a suspension, but what hurt Liverpool the most today was their lack of creativity at the centre of the pitch due to the injury of Phillipe Coutinho. Aspas has not been up to the mark till now in a red shirt, and although they were enjoying a fair share of the possession, they did nothing to trouble Southampton in the final third. This will certainly trouble Liverpool against the better sides, and it is not something that can be solved in a day.
Absence of a proper bench- Liverpool’s need of a stronger bench was left exposed today when Rodgers seemingly had no player he could bring in from the substitutes to make a sizeable impact on the game. He could make little changes here and there, but those were not enough to break the deadlock. At the beginning of the second half, Sterling came on for Aspas, which added a little more sharpness in their play, but far from the requisite amount. Luis Alberto added little value to the team when he came on, and struggled with his passing. Although things could improve with the return of Coutinho and Suarez, the January window would be the time to add a bit more quality into the team.