- Reds go third
- Salah, Firmino each w/ goal, assist
- Saints sink 18th
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah assisted on each other’s goals as Liverpool beat Southampton 2-0 at St. Mary’s on Sunday.
The Reds are two points behind Manchester United for second in the Premier League, while Saints dip into the drop zone with 26 points.
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Liverpool was ahead after six minutes, with Mohamed Salah receiving the luxury of a wide open Sadio Mane and Firmino. He chose the latter, and the latter chose to finish beyond the reach of Alex McCarthy. 1-0, Reds.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot deflected toward a diving McCarthy moments later.
Saints were on the verge of equalizing when Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg trapped a diagonal ball in the 18, but Loris Karius came charging to make a fine save.
James Ward-Prowse swept a cross to the penalty spot, where Guido Carrillo forced a save out of Karius with a header. Moments later, Dusan Tadic sent one to Ward-Prowse, whose header was palmed out for a corner by Karius.
Saints were on the front foot for the remainder of the half, that is excepting Liverpool’s crucial second goal. Salah and Firmino worked a 1-2 which included a back heel from the Brazilian. 2-0, 42′.
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Ward-Prowse hit a hard free kick to the front post, and Hoedt couldn’t quite turn it past Karius as the match remained 2-0 in the 60th minute.
Salah collected a Firmino rebound off a Mane-inspired combination, but saw a rare miss hit the outside of the side netting.
Substitute Adam Lallana nearly found the side panel against his old team, but shot wide of the far post.
Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino says that his team did not add any more players in the January transfer window because their targets were “too expensive for us.”
“I think we were prepared. The question is in our targets, we couldn’t bring our targets,” Pellegrino said. “Some of them because it was too expensive for us, some of them because they [other clubs] don’t want to accept our bids.”
The Saints brought in Argentinian striker Guido Carrillo for $27.5 million, but they had other targets they failed to latch onto. Most notably, they were linked with Spartak Moscow winger Quincy Promes but the deal collapsed because the Russian club was unable to find a replacement.
“The market I think in the last two years change a lot, from Pogba, from Neymar, I think the transfer fees are massive,” Pellegrino said ahead of Southampton’s visit to West Brom on Saturday. “When you think about now the transfer fees of the players, it’s difficult to bring good players, good quality and that can play in the Premier League, that’s difficult.”
Southampton has gone 12 games without a win, dropping the team into the relegation zone with just 23 points on the season through 25 matches. Since their last win on November 26th when they sat 10th in the table, Southampton has been outscored 21-12 over the 13 matches, grabbing just seven points, all on draws.
Pellegrino said he wants to wait until the end of the season to “draw a conclusion about our performance,” but if the club continues to struggle, he may not get that long.
Southampton’s ailing attack has found itself a possible star, as Saints confirmed the capture of Monaco striker Guido Carrillo on Thursday.
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PST’s Joe Prince-Wright confirmed an agreed fee on Wednesday, and the 26-year-old Argentine was announced a day later with a three-and-a-half year contract.
Carrillo scored 18 goals during his three seasons at Monaco after starting his career under current Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino at Estudiantes.
“I obviously know the coaching staff, I’ve worked with them in Argentina and I also spoke with some players who were former teammates in Argentina, who are now playing in the Premier League and they told me all about the club and gave it a shining reference. Therefore, I had no doubts when I took the decision.”
Saints downfall this season has been a lack of finish as Charlie Austin‘s been hurt and both Shane Long and Manolo Gabbiadini have failed to deliver in front of goal. If Carrillo can feast on the spoils provided by Dusan Tadic, Sofiane Boufal, and others, Saints may quickly find themselves out of relegation trouble.
Southampton are spending that Virgil Van Dijk cash.
Pro Soccer Talk understands that talks have been ongoing for days between Monaco and Saints, and Southampton have now agreed a club-record $27 million fee with Monaco for Argentine striker Guido Carrillo.
Per a source with information on the situation, Southampton hope to have the signing of Carrillo completed by the time they play Watford in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday at St Mary’s.
The striker previously played for current Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino at Argentine side Estudiantes and moved to Monaco in 2015. He is renowned for his strong aerial ability and he seems to be in the same mold as Graziano Pelle, who Saints have never quite replaced since he left in the summer of 2016.
However, Carrillo, 26, has found minutes hard to come by this season with 22 appearances in all competitions but just two starts in Ligue 1.
Saints have been searching for a new goalscorer for most of the past 12 months after Manolo Gabbiadini‘s lethal initial form dried up following his arrival from Napoli last January. Carrillo’s goalscoring record is far from clinical but he has had limited opportunities for the reigning French champions and he’s a player Pellegrino knows well.
With top goalscorer Charlie Austin battling with injuries for the past two seasons, Saints have the less than prolific Shane Long as their only other forward option with 17-year-old Michael Obafemi coming off the bench late on against Tottenham last weekend in their 1-1 draw to showcase their lack of forward options.
Pellegrino’s side are currently on the longest winless run in the Premier League (11 games) and are in the relegation zone, but are just four points off 10th place in the incredibly tight battle against the drop.
With a $42 million deal for Spartak Moscow winger Quincy Promes also said to be in the works, it appears Saints are gambling on Carrillo and Promes to save their PL status in the final months of the season.