Southampton played host to Liverpool at St Mary’s as they looked for a reaction after a disastrous opening-day defeat away to Burnley.
Liverpool headed into the game off the back of a UEFA Super Cup penalty shootout triumph over Chelsea and looked to maintain their 100% league record after a 4-1 win over Norwich City.
Ralph Hasenhuttl made two changes to the side that started at Turf Moor with Maya Yoshida replacing Jack Stephens and captain Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg returning to the team in place of Danny Ings.
Che Adams headed Southampton’s best chance of the first half over the crossbar after an Oriol Romeu cross. It looked as though both sides were going into the half-time break on level terms when Sadio Mane curled home a stunning strike in injury time to give the European champions the lead.
The second half saw Hasenhutl’s men put more pressure on last season’s Premier League runners-up, leaving them exposed at the back, which nearly cost them dearly as Roberto Firmino failed to find the target after a great ball from Mane on the counter. Firmino then doubled the visitors’ lead following a mistake from Jan Bednarek.
Ings managed to grab a consolation goal against his former side after pressuring Liverpool keeper Adrian into a mistake. Ings also had a golden chance to level proceedings with minutes of the game remaining, but couldn’t make the right connection with Yan Valery’s cross.
Here are four findings that we can take away from Saints’ second defeat of the season.
The defensive woes continue
Southampton’s defensive issues continued after mistakes cost them away at Turf Moor. Saints can only be described as shooting themselves in the foot after the error that led to the visitors doubling their lead.
Southampton currently have six first-team centre-backs at their disposal and favour a formation that contains three. Whether the issues defensively are down to a lack of quality or the system and formation allowing more pressure on the defence, the worry of conceding goals remains prominent amongst the St Mary’s faithful.
Moussa Djenepo's competitive debut
From a negative to a positive, Moussa Djenepo came on as a second-half substitute for Ryan Bertrand, and it’s safe to say we are all excited to see more from the Mali international.
Djenepo showed blistering pace and bags of raw potential in his 15-minute cameo. Djenepo caught the eye last season whilst at Standard Liege and after his debut, and you can see why.
Djenepo will, of course, like any new signing, need time to adapt to the Premier League, but the potential to develop into excellence could be key as Southampton move forward.
The difference between good sides and great sides is the ability to take chances. Liverpool were ruthless and made amends for missing a golden opportunity by pouncing on a Saints mistake.
Southampton failed to make the most of their chances, though, with the Danny Ings having the best of the lot. However, despite seeming like a negative, the positive is that Saints created chances and half-chances against one of the best sides in the league.
Southampton have lost their opening two fixtures for the first time since the 2002/03 season. The fixture list hasn’t been kind to the Saints, with tough trips away from home and two of the top six at St Mary’s in the opening four fixtures of the new season.
Hasenhuttl was brought into the club back in December 2018 to keep Southampton in the Premier League. Ralph now has a project on his hands to turn the fortunes of the club around after the previous regime’s failings, and it won’t happen overnight.
Despite back-to-back defeats, the pressure shouldn’t start to mount as you can see the positives and the potential moving forward with this young, hungry side that Hasenhuttl is trying to create, but picking up points is now necessary…
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