Southampton – Liverpool: Liverpool’s winless run reached three matches and its scoreless stretch hit 258 minutes with a 1-0 loss to Southampton at St. Mary’s on Monday.
Former Liverpool striker Danny Ings scored an incredible goal in the second minute. It stood as the lone marker of the season’s final Festive Fixture, pushing Saints onto 29 points and sixth place and moving Ralph Hasenhuttl to tears.
Liverpool’s 33 points are still the joint-best in the Premier League but the Reds have played one more game than their next opponent: Manchester United.
Liverpool is winless in three-straight Premier League matches for the first time since May 2018, when Jurgen Klopp’s men drew West Brom and Stoke before losing to Chelsea to dip into fourth place.
[ MORE: Hasenhuttl explains post-win tears ]
That’s also the last time the Reds were shutout in consecutive PL matches.
The Reds also dropped points for the eighth time In 14 matches. The three-match skid is also the first time the Reds have scored just one goal in three matches since Sept. 12, 2015.
Three things we learned from Southampton – Liverpool
1. Reds defensive risk goes well enough: Center midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were partnered as center backs as Klopp opted against his youngsters in any key position. Nathaniel Phillips, Rhys Williams, and midfielder Curtis Jones were all on the bench and did not enter the fray, and Liverpool handled its business apart from Ings’ sensational finish. Henderson had some key moments at the back and Fabinho played the role of air monster in a way that would keep Virgil van Dijk proud.
2. But Liverpool’s attack is frustrated: The attack, oh no, the attack. The Reds scored in the 12th minute of their draw with West Bromwich Albion and did not find the net in the remaining 78 minutes before being blanked by Newcastle and Saints. Liverpool out-attempted West Brom 17-5, Newcastle 11-8, and Saints 16-7, holding 78, 74, and 68 percent possession in those games. But the finish was poor and the bounces unkind as Liverpool let go of its grip on first place. Trent Alexander-Arnold gave the ball away 38 times, the most in the Premier League this season, but it says something that he appeared one of Liverpool’s lone live wires.
3. Saints defend well, but Walker-Peters lucky: Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane tried to win penalties in each half. Salah’s first in the opening salvo was actually a foul on the Egyptian and gave Saints a goal kick but another VAR might’ve given Liverpool a chance from the spot when Kyle Walker-Peters stuck his hip into Mane deep in the box. Maybe the Senegalese’s cartoonish embellishment after the perceived foul hurt him with either the game or video ref, but it would’ve set up a possible 1-1 at the hour mark with Liverpool all over the hosts. Walker-Peters, for what it’s worth, was also very good over 90 minutes and perhaps deserved that bit of fortune.
Man of the Match: Danny Ings
With respect to Jack Stephens for a brilliant day at center back, it just has to be Ings. His no-look brilliance in the box allowed Saints to play with the lead and my, were Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men ready for that.
Southampton – Liverpool recap
Saints went ahead before the match was two-minutes old, a James Ward-Prowse free kick — imagine that — whipped to the front post where Ings sent his first touch looping over Alisson Becker for 1-0.
Liverpool began swarming the Southampton third soon after that, and Jan Bednarek’s big clearance kept it 1-0 after a dozen minutes.
The Reds were still in charge deep into the half when Ryan Bertrand showed terrific speed to catch Mohamed Salah’s surge into the box and win a foul off of the Egyptian after poking the ball out of play.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Southampton’s Nathan Tella, into the game for the injured Moussa Djenepo after a half-hour, worked around the Reds defense with a drive from right to left atop the box, but cut his shot wide of the post.
Jordan Henderson cut out Ings’ bid to find Theo Walcott on a break just before halftime.
Liverpool wanted a penalty when Georginio Wijnaldum’s in-tight last struck a falling Jack Stephens’ arm, but VAR was not swayed and Saints handled the corner.
Sadio Mane tried to win one later, too, as deflected shots zipped off the frame and every Saints block was solid.