Lacklustre Liverpool tasted defeat for the first time this season as they were outdone by a spirited Southampton side at Anfield. The hosts went into the fixture defending an unbeaten run in the top-flight which stretched back to March – but Mauricio Pochettino’s men, who were coincidentally the last team to beat the Merseysiders, repeated that feat and knocked the Reds off the top of the Premier League table.
Brendan Rodgers’ side started the campaign with three straight wins and clean-sheets, but a 2-2 draw at Swansea last Monday, with a particularly disappointing second-half display, was perhaps a sign of things to come. The Reds’ boss selected four centre-backs in the form of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho to make up his defensive line and from that moment on all did not seem right. Liverpool began the game poorly and even Dejan Lovren’s goal for Saints shortly after the break did little to spark a reaction from the home side.
Rodgers claimed that the Merseysiders simply had a ‘poor day’ and he will hope that Liverpool do not repeat such a performance in the coming weeks, as they look to remain near the top of the table. The Anfield side currently sit in fifth place, just two points behind early pacesetters Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. However, with the next four league fixtures coming against bottom half clubs Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion, there is plenty of opportunity for the Reds to recover from this setback.
But, before that, Liverpool must face arch rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford in the Capital One Cup in midweek. Rodgers’ men have already beaten the Red Devils in the Premier League this season and another victory over United, who were beaten heavily by their neighbours City on Sunday, would be the perfect reaction and confidence booster for the Anfield outfit.
Of course, all eyes will be on Luis Suarez when the two sides meet on Wednesday. The Uruguayan forward returns from his lengthy suspension against United – and despite spending much of the summer trying to angle his way out of the club – the former Ajax star will be looking to heap further misery on the current Premier League champions and their new manager David Moyes.
Results suggest that Suarez has not really been missed by Liverpool since his infamous bite on Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic towards the end of the previous campaign, though the game in which the Reds seemed to need him most was in the previous clash against Southampton. Suarez’s return will be greatly anticipated by Liverpool’s supporters.
Despite the defeat in the last game, this has been an excellent start to the season for the Anfield side. How they react to the first loss of the campaign will be hugely important for Rodgers. With Suarez set to return and a big clash against Manchester United on the cards, only a positive reaction will do.
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