Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the Premier League title took another hit this evening, as the Reds were put to the sword by a game Southampton.
Ings makes the difference
Jurgen Klopp’s men made the trip to St. Mary’s a short time ago, for their latest league outing.
The champions of course headed into proceedings in search of a bounce-back result, on the back of a pair of respective draws with West Brom and Newcastle over the last couple of weeks.
This had allowed Manchester United to join Liverpool at the summit of the English top-flight, making a 3-point haul of absolutely paramount importance this evening.
As outlined above, however, when all was said and done in the southeast, the visitors’ woes only ramped up further.
Upon the final whistle sounding, a solitary Southampton goal proved the difference between the sides, sending Liverpool back to Merseyside with their tails between their legs.
The game’s deciding moment came inside three minutes, when a brilliantly worked set-piece saw James Ward-Prowse’s dinked delivery set Danny Ings free, allowing the English international to loft a wonderful finish into the far corner of his former side’s net:
What a start for #SaintsFC! 😇
Ings scores against his former club with a lovely finish after catching out the #LFC defence!
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 4, 2021
The visitors pushed for an equaliser as the clash progressed, pinning Southampton in their own half during the early exchanges following the interval.
All told, though, Liverpool, once again, simply failed to produce when it mattered most.
This is as good as it has got for #LFC…
Mane turns back onto his right, but spoons his shot over and wide! 🥄
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) January 4, 2021
Manchester United will now have the opportunity to secure sole ownership of the Premier League’s top spot in 8 days’ time, when the Red Devils make the trip to Turf Moor to take on Burnley.
VAR & TAA
On the back of proceedings coming to a close at St. Mary’s, meanwhile, despite the relative lack of action over the course of the 90 minutes, a number of noteworthy talking points have since come to the fore online.
Unsurprisingly, one has centered on VAR, with the Liverpool faithful of the widespread opinion that their side should have been awarded at least one penalty this evening.
The first claim came when Gini Wijnaldum’s goalbound strike struck the arm of Southampton stopper Jack Stephens, before Sadio Mane later went to ground under a clumsy challenge on the part of Kyle Walker-Peters:
VAR is a shambles. pic.twitter.com/bq6khW5Jp6
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) January 4, 2021
Marriner has let them manhandle Mané and Salah all night. Seriously, it’s the worst refereeing performance I’ve seen since that Man Utd vs Arsenal game in 2004. And now we have VAR ignoring the clear fouls and handballs, to rub salt into the wounds.
— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) January 4, 2021
Pretty sure that was a penalty the other day.
— Ian Doyle (@IanDoyleSport) January 4, 2021
— Shocking VAR (@ShockingVar) January 4, 2021
How is that not a penalty????
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) January 4, 2021
Have seen that given as a handball and penalty all season. Where is the consistency?
— Leanne Prescott (@_lfcleanne) January 4, 2021
Another noteworthy, albeit slightly less high-profile takeaway stemming from the action at St. Mary’s, though, surrounds Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The English stopper was at fault for the only goal of the clash, after losing track of Danny Ings, before misjudging the flight of James Ward-Prowse’s free-kick.
This, however, only marks the tip of the iceberg when it comes to TAA’s recent form.
The 22-year-old, who was widely hailed as the best right-back in the Premier League en route to Liverpool’s title success last season, has looked a shadow of his former self for weeks now.
Sloppy in possession, positionally inept, and lacking the sheer will of Andy Robertson on the opposite flank, Alexander-Arnold’s performances are developing into a genuine concern for Jurgen Klopp and co.
Perfectly summing up the struggles of the talented stopper this evening, meanwhile, is the statistic showcased below, revealing that TAA managed to surrender possession on no less than 38 occasions over the course of his 77 minutes on the pitch versus Southampton:
Most times possession lost in a Premier League game since 2016-17:
◎ Alexander-Arnold: 49 vs Leicester (19/20)
◎ R. Pereira: 42 vs Southampton (18/19)
◎ B. Chilwell: 42 vs Everton (18/19)
38 by Trent Alexander-Arnold this evening is joint-16th most. pic.twitter.com/E6dkrInnZO
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 4, 2021
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Premier League table
|2||Manchester United FC||16||9||33|
|3||Leicester City FC||17||10||32|
|4||Tottenham Hotspur FC||16||14||29|
|5||Manchester City FC||15||11||29|
|7||Aston Villa FC||15||13||26|
|10||West Ham United FC||17||3||26|
|13||Wolverhampton Wanderers FC||17||-6||22|
|14||Crystal Palace FC||17||-7||22|
|15||Newcastle United FC||16||-8||19|
|17||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||17||-7||14|
|19||West Bromwich Albion||17||-28||8|
|20||Sheffield United FC||17||-21||2|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||13|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||12|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||11|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||11|
|Calvert-Lewin, Dominic||Everton FC||11|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||10|
|Bamford, Patrick||Leeds United||10|
|Zaha, Wilfried||Crystal Palace FC||8|
|Wilson, Callum||Newcastle United FC||8|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||7|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||7|
|Lacazette, Alexandre||Arsenal FC||7|
|Mane, Sadio||Liverpool FC||6|
|Watkins, Ollie||Aston Villa FC||6|
|Maupay, Neal||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||6|
|Abraham, Tammy||Chelsea FC||6|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||5|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||5|
|Barnes, Harvey||Leicester City FC||5|
|Soucek, Tomas||West Ham United FC||5|
|Player||Team||Red Cards||Yellow Cards|
|Bellerin, Hector||Arsenal FC||0||6|
|Bissouma, Yves||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1||5|
|Romeu, Oriol||Southampton FC||0||5|
|Dunk, Lewis||Brighton & Hove Albion FC||1||4|
|Phillips, Kalvin||Leeds United||0||5|
|Cash, Matty||Aston Villa FC||0||5|
|Gallagher, Conor||West Bromwich Albion||0||5|
|Evans, Jonny||Leicester City FC||0||5|
|Kante, N`Golo||Chelsea FC||0||5|
|Milivojevic, Luka||Crystal Palace FC||1||4|
|Egan, John||Sheffield United FC||1||4|
|Hayden, Isaac||Newcastle United FC||0||5|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||0||4|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||0||4|
|Klich, Mateusz||Leeds United||0||4|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||0||4|
|Reid, Bobby||Fulham FC||0||4|
|Tielemans, Youri||Leicester City FC||0||4|
|Doucoure, Abdoulaye||Everton FC||0||4|
|Mings, Tyrone||Aston Villa FC||0||3|
|Kane, Harry||Tottenham Hotspur FC||11|
|Fernandes, Bruno||Manchester United FC||7|
|Grealish, Jack||Aston Villa FC||7|
|De Bruyne, Kevin||Manchester City FC||7|
|Son, Heung Min||Tottenham Hotspur FC||5|
|Robertson, Andrew||Liverpool FC||5|
|Vardy, Jamie||Leicester City FC||4|
|Rashford, Marcus||Manchester United FC||4|
|Ward-Prowse, James||Southampton FC||4|
|Werner, Timo||Chelsea FC||4|
|Adams, Che||Southampton FC||4|
|Harrison, Jack||Leeds United||4|
|Chilwell, Benjamin||Chelsea FC||4|
|McGinn, John||Aston Villa FC||4|
|Cresswell, Aaron||West Ham United FC||4|
|Digne, Lucas||Everton FC||4|
|Salah, Mohamed||Liverpool FC||3|
|Ings, Danny||Southampton FC||3|
|Firmino, Roberto||Liverpool FC||3|
|Sterling, Raheem||Manchester City FC||3|