Southampton were defeated 2-1 by Liverpool on Saturday as a late onslaught of attacks proved to be insufficient, with the European champions walking away with three points.
Saints started the game on the front foot and had their fair share of chances. Maya Yoshida and Che Adams came close, and Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side piled on the pressure upon their return to St Mary’s Stadium.
However, a former Southampton star opened the scoring in fine fashion. Sadio Mane cut inside from the left and curled home a sumptuous effort that left Angus Gunn helpless. Liverpool’s performance hardly warranted it, but they headed into the break one up.
Jurgen Klopp’s half-time team talk evidently paid dividends, as the visitors controlled proceedings after the interval. Roberto Firmino missed a gilt-edged chance after some good work down the left from Mane, and soon after, he would not pass up a second offering.
Firmino jinked between challenges, evading the lunge of Jannik Vestergaard after Jan Bednarek had surrendered possession, and the Brazilian placed a low effort beyond Gunn and into the bottom corner.
Southampton managed to get a foothold in the game once more, with Danny Ings deflecting Adrian’s careless pass to Fabinho into the back of the net, but wastefulness would ultimately cost them.
Ings had a golden opportunity to notch his second of the game after coming off the bench against his former side, but he failed to convert with the goal at his mercy, as he clipped the ball wide.
It was a disappointing outcome for Saints, but positives were there to be taken. Here are three players who I thought were impressive for us.
Romeu has come in for some criticism lately, and perhaps deservedly so. He has struggled to properly impose himself on fixtures in the past year, but he was exceptional against Liverpool and the best outfield player in a red and white shirt by a mile.
The Spaniard added steel and intelligence in midfield; he tracked runs effectively, anticipated passes from Liverpool’s midfield trio, and broke up play in expert fashion. His performance was wrongly hindered by an unjust yellow card in the first half.
Romeu won seven of his 10 defensive duels and attempted to play the ball forward quickly. He found Che Adams with accurate vertical passes and was keen to initiate quick counter-attacks, even in spite of his teammates’ occasional lack of urgency.
Gunn is another who has been criticised lately, and following his haphazard showing at Turf Moor, it’s easy to see why. However, he redeemed himself against Liverpool with a superb showing as his goal was peppered with shots, particularly in the second half.
The 23-year-old was a little slow to react to a couple of Burnley’s goals, but this wasn’t the case on Saturday. He coped well with some threatening moves from the visitors, notably as Andy Robertson fiercely lashed a half-volley towards the near post, only to see his effort met by the sharp reflexes of the Saints ‘keeper.
Gunn is clearly Hasenhuttl’s first choice in between the sticks. He has big potential, and this season presents him with the perfect chance to prove that. After all, he’ll be facing plenty of attempts on goal if our defence continues to leak as much as it currently does…
Adams will have been kicking himself after missing a good chance to open his account in the Premier League, but he provided plenty of reason for optimism against Liverpool. He has fitted into Hasenhuttl’s plans seamlessly and is already establishing himself as an important player for us.
He should have done better with a header after Romeu expertly found him with a floated cross into the box, but his positioning throughout the game was largely impeccable. He drifted between Liverpool’s defence and midfield, seeking vertical passes with his back to goal, and involved himself in Saints’ build-up play regularly.
Adams will get more chances as he continues to grow accustomed to the trends of his new team as well as the demands of the Premier League. He also won’t be up against a certain Virgil van Dijk every week. The positive signs are there, and the 23-year-old will fancy his chances against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.