Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League has been cut again after a 1-0 loss away at Southampton on Monday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are now level on points with Manchester United, who have a game in hand. Rivals Manchester City, meanwhile, are also able to overtake the Reds if they win their two games in hand. An early Danny Ings strike was enough to separate the two sides at St. Mary’s Stadium with the England international assisted by James Ward-Prowse inside of 120 seconds.
Liverpool could only manage one shot on target all match and that arrived late in the encounter with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s organized hosts.
Here are some takeaways from the match.
Taking nothing away from a disciplined Southampton performance, Liverpool were never really at the races and they were fully punished for that.
The Saints created fewer openings but did more with them as they registered two shots on target to the Reds’ one. Perhaps most impressive was the fact that Liverpool largely dominated possession, yet it took until the final quarter of an hour for them to get anywhere near the Southampton goal.
Had Klopp seen his men comprehensively outplayed, then he might not have many complaints, but he will not be happy with how little his players mustered over the course of the match.
Hasenhuttl had his players raring to go from the start and they flew out of the traps to take their visitors by surprise with a goal inside the opening two minutes that Liverpool were unable to recover from.
While they might not have created much more over the 90 minutes, Southampton were disciplined and purposeful with Klopp’s men unable to do much with all of the ball that they had.
Curse of the ex
Ings played for Liverpool between 2015-19 with a loan spell with Southampton before making his stay permanent and it was their former player who undid the champions here.
It is not the first time Ings has scored against Klopp’s side, but this goal could prove significant if it opens the door to a United title victory.
Southampton’s win opens up the Premier League title and European qualification spots with two teams within reach of top spot and seven within a maximum of three points of continental qualification.
If teams in and around the Saints in the table make the most of their games in hand, then the battle at the top will be tighter and more exciting than it already is.
Liverpool’s clash with United at Anfield later this month now takes on added importance as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men can pull ahead if they make the most of their game in hand.
Klopp’s side has no option but to beat their rivals in that clash and ensure that there are no more slip-ups if they want to defend this title.