Liverpool collapsed to a 3-2 comeback loss to Southampton at South Coast, given the fact that they were leading 2-0 in the first half.
Klopp made three changes to the lineup that featured in midweek against Manchester United, all of them were forced ones as Firmino was injured, Henderson was ill and Milner was suspended from this game. In came Flanagan, Allen and Origi.
It was 4-4-2 diamond to start but lack of midfield in early exchanges forced Klopp to change the shape back to 4-4-1-1 with Allen and Can shepherding the middle area; Coutinho on left and Lallana on the right and Sturridge and Origi in a flexible front two.
In the first half, it was more like high-line tight space pressing and willingness to play on counter attacks. To start with, the shape was 4-4-2 diamond with Allen being the deepest midfield player protecting the back four, but Southampton had two strikers on the pitch with big physical presence and the early exchanges belonged to the home side due to that. So, Klopp immediately made a change by bringing Can back centrally with Allen and shifting Coutinho on the left and allowing Origi and Sturridge to flex their moves when needed.
The pair of Can and Allen won the ball well in the first half and not allowed any rhythm for Saints to drive forward, the first goal scored by Coutinho was after the ball retention by Allen and Can in midfield. It was working good for visitors as the shape of the back-line was solid and they looked threatening going forward.
It was completely different come the second half, Klopp made a very uncharacteristic change by subbing Lovren off for Skrtel just due to the fact that the Croatian was yellow carded.
This changed the course of the game as Saints brought on Wanyama for more presence in midfield and Mane to add directness in play. One thing Koeman’s men did well is allowed Liverpool possession in the middle but won second balls in tight spaces and played directly to Pelle to hold on and bring other players in the game, this is where Mane was dangerous and Liverpool were caught off their positions because of this.
Allen and Can were caught higher up the pitch and Skrtel was very sloppy and couldn’t win much against Pelle which made it easy for likes of Mane and Davies.
Another minor mistake by Klopp was to keep Sturridge on despite seeing Wanyama bossing the midfield with Mane, Davies and Romeu. The German replaced him with another striker Benteke, a decision that’ll be termed as positive but if you see the match situation, it was a bad one and someone like Henderson would have been brought on to counter the threats.
So all in all it was a game of two halves as far as Liverpool is concerned, Klopp made two substitution mistakes but players likes Skrtel were not expected to be as sloppy as this so the manager can’t be blamed solely, he trusted the player and the response was of the lowest order. They have 14 days to recover from this heart-break and come back strongly after the international break.
By Mizgan on 21st March 2016
Twitter – @mizgans