The hosts took the lead after just 10 minutes when Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross deflected off Shane Long and then Wesley Hoedt for a peculiar own goal. Liverpool won a seventh straight match from the start of a season for the first time by easing past a luckless Southampton at Anfield.
Joel Matip rose above opposing centre-back Jannik Vestergaard to head in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner and double the advantage.
Liverpool effectively made sure of victory just before the break as Shaqiri’s superb free-kick came down off the crossbar and Mohamed Salah turned the ball in from close range.
Saints were not quite as poor as the scoreline suggests but largely sat back in the second half, perhaps content not to be embarrassed – though Salah did have a goal disallowed for offside late on.
Jurgen Klopp’s side goes back to the top of the Premier League with their sixth straight win in the competition, and they also beat Paris St-Germain in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.
As Jürgen Klopp is fond of telling it takes greed, aggression, talent and a phenomenal work-rate to execute his gameplan, yet Liverpool are making victories look routine. His team returned to the top of the Premier League with a sixth straight win, their seventh in all competitions this season, as Southampton were dispatched with ease at Anfield.
Liverpool were home and hosed after only 45 minutes against Mark Hughes’ visitors as a Wesley Hoedt own goal, Joël Matip header and Mohamed Salah tap-in established an emphatic first half lead. Klopp’s team now have two points more than Manchester City did at the corresponding stage of last season’s record-breaking title success. Not that anyone at Anfield is looking too far ahead, of course.
Klopp’s formation was even more adventurous than usual with Xherdan Shaqiri handed his first start since his summer move from Stoke City in place of the rested James Milner. Shaqiri floated to good effect in the No 10 role behind Salah – who was the most central of Liverpool’s three forwards with Roberto Firmino left and Sadio Mané right – and did not take long to leave his mark on the contest.
The breakthrough was a mess but the pass made it a delight, Mané turning and picking out Shaqiri with a ball that pierced the Southampton defence after they had only half cleared a corner. The Switzerland international cut inside Cédric Soares for a right-foot shot that would have sailed wide but for a deflection off Shane Long on to Hoedt. The central defender was slow to react and the ball struck his thigh before rolling over the goal line despite Alex McCarthy’s attempts to scramble clear.
Liverpool’s formation offered the visitors space to attack Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson in numbers. It was an invitation they accepted frequently but, whenever Southampton did break behind the full-backs, Virgil van Dijk was on hand to cut out the danger. The former Southampton defender prevented Long converting Matt Targett’s low cross with a perfectly timed challenge in the six-yard box plus a procession of crosses from both flanks. The visitors paid a heavy price for their absence of that sort of authority at the heart of their defence.
Klopp’s team doubled their lead from another corner, conceded when Soares stopped Salah converting a slick one-two with Firmino with a superb tackle in the area. Alexander-Arnold swept his delivery deep and Matip towered above Jannik Vestergaard to head his first Anfield goal into McCarthy’s top corner.
The game provided a further demonstration of the widening gulf between the Premier League’s leading lights and their supposed competitors. Southampton did not play particularly badly and Liverpool were a long way short of their intensive, dominant best – yet they still strolled off at half-time three goals to the good. Number three was a simple but important tap-in for Salah.
Klopp had played down concerns over the Egypt international’s form, rightly stating that two goals in his six previous outings hardly constituted a crisis and highlighting the defensive improvement in Salah’s game in the wins against Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham Hotspur. Still, the source of 44 goals last season has not been at his sharpest and the centre-forward’s role he was given in the first half was designed to aid that recovery. Salah went close several times, with one audacious backheel beating McCarthy but trickling agonisingly wide of the far post, before claiming his third of the campaign seconds before the interval.
Having been dragged back 25 yards from goal Salah was first to react when Shaqiri curled the resulting free-kick against the Southampton crossbar. There was nothing wrong with the Egyptian’s sharpness this time as he sprinted ahead of Soares to convert the rebound from inches out.
Source: The Guardian