English Premiership

Reds finally turn on the style

2015-02-23 10:31
Brendan Rodgers (Supplied)
Brendan Rodgers (Supplied)

London - It has taken a long time for Liverpool's trio of ex-Southampton players to be able to point to a performance and say 'this is why we left', but there was ample reason to justify their desertion in Sunday's 2-0 win at St Mary's.

Not only did Liverpool's victory move them to within one point of their rivals for Champions League qualification, but it reinforced the belief that momentum in the battle for the top four is now firmly in the Merseysiders' camp.

For Adam Lallana and Dejan Lovren, who both started against their old employers and were roundly booed for their efforts, and Rickie Lambert, who was left on the bench, there was clear evidence that the season may be turning Liverpool's way.

The victory was delivered courtesy of a superb early strike from Philippe Coutinho, whose ability to flit been the realms of magnificent magician and bystander was perhaps never more in evidence, and a late effort from Raheem Sterling.

It moved Liverpool to within two points of Manchester United in fourth having trailed their great north west rivals by 10 when Brendan Rodgers's side lost at Old Trafford in mid-December.

Even if Lambert and Lovren, and to a certain extent Lallana, remain bit-part players at Anfield, they can point to an upcoming FA Cup quarter-final and progress in the Europa League as reasons for their jumping ship.

After their terrible start to the season, Liverpool have now won five of their last six in the league and having leaked goals for a pastime in the early part of the campaign, they have now kept five league clean sheets in a row away from home for the first time since 1985.

"It's exciting. It's fantastic," Rodgers told Sky Sports.

"My only regret is that we didn't really get going until November."

For Southampton, the positivity of their early rampage up the table is starting to fade.

Having won only two of their last five they have slipped out of the top four and need to find a solution to a goalscoring crisis that has seen them score one goal in their last four matches.

Striker Graziano Pelle has now extended his goal-drought to nine league games and a bullish performance in the driving rain still failed to reap any reward.

They can consider themselves unlucky, however, that they were not awarded at least one penalty in a first half when they had three loud appeals turned down.

"We know in football, it's all about scoring goals. We played much better than Liverpool, we had more possession, more chances," Saints boss Ronald Koeman said.

"I call it unlucky in the decisions of the referee."

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