Brendan Rodgers bizarrely selected four centre-backs, saw his side concede a goal at a set piece and complained the defending was "criminal" as Liverpool lost their unbeaten record at Anfield to an energetic and well-organised Southampton. Playing without recognised full-backs, although José Enrique was eventually brought on from the bench, Liverpool lost almost all their early-season buoyancy and allowed their visitors to score the only goal of the game from a needlessly conceded corner.

"To first lose possession, and then a goal, with so many defensive minded players on the pitch was criminal," the Liverpool manager said. "It [the back line] was what we had available. They coped as well as they could but we suffered a little offensively. I would like a much stronger squad, but we have what we have."

Rodgers was on stronger ground, given that Enrique and Martin Kelly were fit enough to be on the bench, in claiming Luis Suárez's imminent return would give his side a lift. "That's about the only positive," he said. "It will be great to have him back, because technically we were very disappointing. We were flat, right off it. We had one of those days, and it hurts, but I am still optimistic for the rest of the season."

Southampton must be optimistic for the rest of the season too, after nervelessly outplaying Liverpool on their own turf. "The effort from the entire team was amazing," a delighted Mauricio Pochettino said. "We were much superior to Liverpool, especially in the second half. We already have strong belief in ourselves, and a victory such as this only reinforces that.

"We were hanging back a little too defensively in the first half, but we corrected that at half time and began to apply pressure higher up the pitch. We fully deserved our reward."