Liverpool enjoyed 56% possession but in terms of chances, Southampton were well worth a point here. Davis, Schneiderlin and especially Long all had golden opportunities and without the goalkeeping of Mignolet, they surely would have got it. As was the case last season, Liverpool started strongly and when they were fleetingly in top gear, the Saints couldn’t live with them.
Rodgers will feel similar to Wenger – three points in the bag, but plenty to work on. What was encouraging was how quickly and effectively their style changed with the introduction of Lambert. Showed what a good plan B that is.
As for Koeman, he can take a lot from this game, but his best performers didn’t include his new signings Tadic and Pelle, who were wasteful and quiet respectively. Ward-Prowse seems to have been given more responsibility with the departure of Lallana, he showed again how much promise he has.
Thanks for reading, and for your emails and tweets. Bye!
Full-time: Liverpool 2-1 Southampton
Liverpool scrape the three-points!
90 min: Southampton just can’t get the ball off Liverpool’s midfield, which will be a relief for the Reds’ shaky defence. Sterling and Sturridge are full of running, and showing no signs of World Cup fatigue.
87 min: Save of the weekend from Mignolet! Another high ball is well controlled by Pelle and Schneiderlin unleashes a shot from 12 yards that is rising into the net, but Mignolet manages to get the slightest of fingers onto it and the ball crashes against the underside of the bar, before coming down just inches in front of the goalline. The ball bounces in the air, with Long under it. All he’s got to do is head it into an empty net, but under pressure, he nods it wide! What a sitter. Mignolet celebrates like he’s just scored, and no surprise, that was a magnificent initial save!
85 min: Isgrove is on for Davis. The young Welshman has a real change of pace out wide, and that coupled with Long means Southampton aren’t buried yet. Isgrove takes a long throw which is well chested down inside the area by Pelle and Ward-Prowse gets a fierce striker on target but it’s straight down Mignolet’s throat.
83 min: Liverpool playing a bit of keep ball, their full backs are still playing high. Rodgers must be wary that they don’t get caught out high up the pitch. That said, you’d back Liverpool to see this out now.
Henderson drifts wide right and delivers a fizzing ball to the near post towards Lambert. The ball is half-cleared but it is Sterling (5ft5in) who wins the second ball, heading the ball into the six-yard ball. All of Southampton’s defence are on their heels, but it’s Sturridge on the last man, just onside, who gets the faintest of flicks to put the ball just inside the post. Anfield erupts!
GOAL! Liverpool 2-1 Southampton (Sturridge 79)
He’s got his goal!
76 min: Lambert is on for Coutinho! The realisation of a boyhood dream, etc, etc. Looks like they’re playing a diamond midfield with two up top. Suddenly the atmosphere has changed.
74 min: Liverpool’s full-back are getting really high up the pitch now. Although Manquillo delivers a poor cross, he’s looking more of a threat. Now Johnson has a go, squaring a pass to Allen, who turns it onto Henderson, who drags his shot wide.
70 min: That is another wayward pass from Tadic, how much longer will he get before Ronald hauls him off? Long is on the bench remember. And just like that, that is exactly the sub that is made!
67 min: A mad scramble at the back results in a lucky escape for Liverpool. They are riding their back a bit here. Clyne, again up from the back, plays another one-two and gets a shot off, which is blocked, the ball pinballing around the six yard box. There are about four Saints players it could fall to, but Skrtel desperately hacks clear.
66 min: Lucas is off for Allen and as a result, Ward-Prowse is finding more and more space. It’s gone very quiet here at Anfield, save for the Southampton fans.
64 min: Yellow card for Schneiderlin and he clatters into the back of Countinho. That has long been coming.
Will Griffith is on the email.
“As an American Liverpool fan watching the game from a bar in Tokyo, I can confirm that regardless of the timezone one is in, Liverpool still look a bit frantic at the back”
62 min: What a chance for Southampton! Tadic and Ward-Prowse swap a one-two, the latter then squaring a pass for Davis, completely unmarked from 15 yards. He takes it first time, but tries to place it and the shot is weak, Mignolet getting down well to his right. Koeman has his head in his hands on the sideline, they should be winning!
59 min: Lambert is warming up on the touchline, doing shuttle runs down toward those Saints fans, but the striker doesn’t make eye contact. He’s be on in a bit, no doubt.
Tadic has been playing pretty rotten but it was his backheel that opened up the Liverpool defence there. With his back to goal, he receives a ball to feet from Clyne and waits for the full-back to run beyond him and into the box, before backheeling a through ball into Clyne’s path, who is not tracked. The 23-year-old makes no mistake from eight yards out, thundering his shot high into the top right corner. 1-1!
GOAL! Liverpool 1-1 Southampton (Clyne 54)
Whacked into the roof of the net!
52 min: Coutinho is already beginning to find more pockets of space in this second half. This time he receives a driven ball from Gerrard, turns and lays it off for the oncoming Sterling, who lashes the ball over the bar.
By the way, if you want to peruse some images from our live match gallery, you can do so here.
49 min: Another corner for Southampton, their fifth of the game but Mignolet is judged to have been fouled.
47 min: Southampton break down the left, but once more it is a poor cross from Tadic. He even gets another chance, but again fails to beat the first man. Koeman must be fuming at that. Pelle is such an obvious target but he’s had little chance to show his aerial prowess.
Peep! Second-half is underway.
Sturridge on the Twitter earlier this week, not exactly reassuring for Red fans.
I recently talked to the tutor who is helping West Ham’s new signing Enner Valencia with his English and he told me that he is also helping John Terry learn Portuguese!
Bob Paisley took charge of his first league match as Liverpool manager 40 years ago today. Give it up for the man with LOADS and LOADS and LOADS of whiskey (and trophies).
Half-time: Liverpool 1-0 Southampton
A strong finish to the half there for Southampton!
45+2 min: Sterling let’s fly from similar range at the other end, this is more of a rasper and it fairly central. Forster palms it away.
45 min: And there’s the threat! Schneiderlin allowed a bit of space between Liverpool’s midfield and defence and he let’s rip, bending a shot high and oh so nearly over Mignolet. Good save in the end and the closest Southampton have come.
42 min: The half is rather fizzling out. Liverpool, aware that they’ve not seen much of the ball are happy just to ping it round the back.
“Is it something sky sports are doing to the sound or is anfield
remarkably quiet for an opening game of the season when Liverpool are
already one up?” asks David from SparksOffire.
There is definitely a nervousness in the air, I think that they sense a danger here before half-time.
39 min: More and more possession for Southampton but they aren’t any nearer to an equaliser. Liverpool are conceding an increasing number of fouls though, and if they are to concede, you’d say that is the most likely route at present.
“Watching the match at home near San Francisco”, writes Eric Fischer. “As a Saints fan, I am hoping that Ms. Liebherr completes her asset-strip and sells the club prior to January. New ownership will then have a chance to bring Pulis on and salvage 17th.”
Pulis will almost definitely be back in a job by October, I’m gonna say West Ham? Or Brom?
33 min: Another chance for Ward-Prowse to send in a telling cross. My word, this boy can strike a ball. His delivery has wicked pace and curl and although it was intended as a cross, nearly dips straight under Mignolet’s crossbar! The Belgian just gets a fingertip to that!
32 min: Southampton have seen out that pressure and are stroking it about comfortably enough inside Liverpool’s half without any penetration. That’s a late challenge from Manquillo on Tadic, yellow card for the new man on loan.
For all of you reading this on your desktop rather than mobile, you can hit the beta button at the very top of your page and see the match stats.
29 min: Free-kick for Southampton, launched into the box with little effect, but Wanyama falls awkwardly and has to go off, although it is not apparent whether it is just a formality or whether he’s badly hurt.
28 min: Prolonged spell of pressure here for Liverpool, Southampton have to ride this out. They are defending really deep and are obviously scared of Liverpool’s pace after conceding that first goal.
Well we saw it coming with Sterling’s previous run in the fifth minute, and this time he makes no mistake, but everything here was created by Jordan Henderson. The English midfielder wins a 50/50 battle with Schneiderlin just inside Liverpool’s half, gets his head up and plays a beautifully weighted pass between Yoshida and Fonte into the path of Sterling, who doesn’t have to break stride, and slots it the far corner past the onrushing Forster. Great goal, and it was that fluid movement off the wing!
GOAL! Liverpool 1-0 Southampton (Sterling 23)
He’s in off that flank again!
20 min: Tadic wins a cheap corner and as the Saints cavalry arrives in the box, it is apparent how big their team is. Mignolet flaps and eventually gathers. Not convincing.
17 min: Pelle hasn’t won one header yet. Skrtel and Lovren eating up everything that is floated toward them.
Liverpool and Southampton fans, do get in touch and tell me/the world what your hopes are for this season, if you fancy.
15 min: Yoshida is looking nervy and has twice nearly landed his teammates in hot water with a couple of hospital passes. Bertrand gets away with the first challenge but concedes a foul with his second. Lovren and Skrtel trot up for Gerrard delivery but it’s a waste.
13 min: Sturridge runs down the right-hand channel at full pelt on a counter-attack, feinting to go inside before making for the byline. Yoshida dangles a leg out and trips him on the edge of the area! Surely a foul?! No! Clattenburg is adamant there was minimal contact. If he thinks it is a dive, he should book Sturridge. That was definitely a free-kick.
10 min: Southampton are trying to play out of the back, but Liverpool’s pressing eventually forces a hoof. Great energy from Sterling. Saints ain’t settling.
8 min: Another Gerrard diagonal finds Sturridge in space breaking into the area, but the bounce means he can’t get the ball under control. Manages to win a corner, which is flicked on at the near post and luckily ends up in Forster’s arms
5 min: Sturridge drops deep into the midfield and plays a slide rule pass in behind the Southampton defence. Sterling, off his left-hand wing collects the pass but is shepherded well wide by Fonte, who manages to get a challenge in that ricochets for a goal kick. That fluid movement up top for Liverpool looks dangerous, Coutinho and Sterling moving up, when Sturridge drops.
3 min: Everytime Lovren touches the ball, huge cheers ring out around Anfield and Saints fans respond in turn by booing him. Gerrard has dropped deep and started spraying diagonals. Ahhh football is back.
2 min: Tadic collects the ball on the left and floats the first ball towards the head of 6ft4in Pelle, but the Italian is beaten comfortably in the air by Lovren.
Peeep! We’re off. Liverpool kicking toward the Kop in this first half.
The teams are out! Saints fans bellow out “There’s only one Rickie Lambert” as he takes his place on the Liverpool bench.
Of the Southampton new boys, arguably the most important is the new gaffer, Ronald Koeman. His tenure has started with a lot of upheaval, which he has taken quite well, but arguably his best bit of business has been hanging onto Morgan Schneiderlin. The Frenchman starts today and looks in good spirits as he warms up on the pitch. That said, there’s still two weeks left in the transfer market, Koeman isn’t out of the woods yet.
However, Sturridge is also partial to doing this. The state of him.
It goes without saying that with Luis Suarez gone, this is a massive season for Daniel Sturridge and if Liverpool are to challenge again for the title this season, they will need to keep him in tip top shape.
He has got an arrogance and swagger to suggest that the pressure of being Liverpool’s talisman won’t bother him, and when Suarez was absent last season, he seemed to revel in it and arguably played better.
“This better be worth it,” emails mwmonk. “I’ve given up a hot date - with the hottest girl I’ll ever meet in Japan - to sit holed up in my little Osaka room with a slightly dodgy feed, starting a new season with the Mighty Reds.
“But how can a sexy Japanese girl compete with Stevie and Brendan, and Jocky and Kenny and Rushie all sitting together in the stands. She doesn’t understand….”
The teams are out warming up on the pitch. Madness ‘Our House’ is playing across the tannoy system, is this a pre-match tradition at Anfield? The video is ruddy excellent, anyway.
Couple of things to unpack from those line-ups.
Liverpool give league debuts to Manquillo and Lovren, while Lucas Leiva is preferred to Emre Can in their midfield three. Lambert is where he might expect to spend most of this season – the bench – while Markovic, Lallana, Agger, and Flanagan are not included in the squad through injury.
Southampton’s newbies include Forster, Bertrand, Tadic and Pelle, with £12m (!) man Shane Long waiting in the wings. They do look particularly suspect at the centre of defence – Fonte was good last year but took his lead from the departed Lovren while Yoshida is yet to convince.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Mignolet, Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Johnson, Henderson, Gerrard, Lucas, Sterling, Coutinho, Sturridge. Subs: Jones, Toure, Lambert, Sakho, Can, Allen, Ibe
Southampton (4-2-3-1): Forster, Clyne, Fonte, Yoshida, Bertrand, Wanyama, Schneiderlin, Tadic, Ward-Prowse, Steven Davis, Pelle. Subs: Kelvin Davis, Long, Taider, Cork, Hooiveld, Isgrove, Stephens
Man in the middle: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)
Southampton win themselves a corner and as Adam Lallana trots over to the left-hand side of the Anfield Road end to take it, the club captain is given a rousing reception by the Saints fans situated in that there corner. Delivering a curling cross to the back post, Dejan Lovren twists one way, then the other, leaving Liverpool’s Daniel Agger on his arse, and contorting his neck muscles round to power a header past Simon Mignolet to give Southampton a 1-0 lead, before embarking on what can only be described as a textbook kneeslide in front of the aforementioned adoring fans.
This fixture last season was decided by that Lallana assist/Lovren header and ended the then league leaders’ unbeaten start to the season. As we enter this one, both players, as well as Rickie Lambert, are now in Liverpool’s ranks.
It’s isn’t an overstatement to suggest that the spine of Southampton’s team, if not the soul of it, has been ripped out this summer and as a neutral, it’s been disheartening to see a team built on good coaching, shrewd buying and an excellent youth academy taken apart. But they’ve made their bed, feathered largely by Liverpool’s cash, and they have to lie in it.
“They obviously decided on a change of plan”, said Brendan Rodgers on Saturday. “I don’t have any sympathy for their situation. It’s just the way football works.”
Kick-off: 1.30pm BST