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Liverpool were stunned on the south coast when a beautiful opening effort by Danny Ings doomed the champions to a 1-0 loss to Southampton, their first in 12 league games.
Ings came back to chase his former employers with less than two minutes left to get Southampton off to a good start. A James Ward-Prowse free throw, complemented by a disguised run from Theo Walcott, stunned Trent Alexander-Arnold in two minds, and the fiery Ings lifted him over Alisson with his left foot when it seemed impossible to score.
Southampton could have expected to be attacked after scoring so early, but that didn’t come from a Liverpool side that seemed short of ideas. A disjointed team that featured Jordan Henderson as a central defender failed to significantly bring down the Saints, who went home with three deserved points.
Let’s get into some player rankings …
Fraser Forster (GK) – 6/10 – The seasoned goalkeeper’s first appearance in the Premier League since April last year, but he seemed confident in his abilities, even if he had a much quieter night than he expected. He didn’t face a shot on goal until the 75th minute when he held on from Sadio Mane.
Kyle Walker-Peters (RB) – 8/10 – His vibrant attacking presence kept Andy Robertson guessing at times and he dealt with the threat from Mane admirably.
Jan Bednarek (CB) – 8/10 – Another steady, controlled performance from a player quietly becoming one of the best central defenders in the Premier League. He threw himself in front of everything, as is the nature of his game, he leaves nothing to chance.
Jack Stephens (CB) – 7/10 – Another great defensive performance from a player who becomes the center of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
Ryan Bertrand (LB) – 7/10 – Quieter than his counterpart on the other side of the field but he was not wrong in any of his jobs.
Stuart Armstrong (RM) – 6/10 – I didn’t have many opportunities to catch the ball, but that was the consequence of Southampton scoring early more than anything. He followed Robertson well and contributed to an exceptional defensive display.
James Ward-Prowse (CM) – 8/10 – His clever set-piece, as usual, created his first goal and brought focus and leadership to his midfield as they defended the lead.
Ibrahima Diallo (CM) – 7/10 – Only his second first-team start after a frustrating start in England, but it didn’t hurt his prospects as he looked right at home in Hasenhuttl’s high-intensity midfield setup.
Moussa Djenepo (LM) – 5/10 – He barely had a touch before an apparent hamstring injury forced him to retreat.
Danny Ings (CF) – 8/10 – Absolutely audacious ending for the first goal when he shot Alisson from an impossible angle. He kept Liverpool’s makeshift center-backs guessing with his clever move and was a constant threat.
Theo Walcott (CF) – 7/10 – The run in disguise sold Trent Alexander-Arnold downstream for the first goal and continued to be a smart and effective counterpoint for Ings.
Nathan Tella – 7/10
Daniel N’Lundulu – 6/10
Yann Valery – 6/10
Alisson (GK) – 6/10 – He had little to do beyond getting the ball out of his net, but there was nothing he could do with Ings’s ridiculous shot.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – 4/10 – He desperately misjudged the flight of the ball for Southampton’s opener and struggled to deliver his usual threat in the final third. He gave the ball 38 times, more than any player in a Premier League game this season, and his substitution for the last 15 said it all.
Jordan Henderson (CB) – 6/10 – Forced to backtrack with Klopp opting for experience heading into a Southampton team, he expected to ask serious questions about his bottom line. It did the job competently, but its limited aerial presence was spotted on a few occasions.
Fabinho (CB) – 6/10 – Starting to look at home as a central defender now, but he will have more confident performances than this one.
Andy Robertson (LB) – 6/10 – Possibly Liverpool’s most potent attacking threat, but that doesn’t say much after a bad day at the office.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – 6/10 – It’s not often that Wijnaldum’s low-key nature is a real downside, but Liverpool could have been getting him to provide something here.
Thiago (CM) – 5/10 – Typically rough on his passing, but limited himself to far fewer touches than a Southampton team that did little in the engine room is used to. The early bird left him a bit off his beat.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – 4/10 – Called in to give Klopp something different, but seemed tentative as he continues his return from injury. Still finding his feet and it showed when he was substituted before the hour mark.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – 5/10 – I tried and tried and tried again, but could barely find a foot of space when Southampton slammed the door shut.
Roberto Firmino (CF) – 4/10 – Absolutely anonymous for the most part. Really disappointing just when his form seemed to be improving.
Sadio Mane (LW) – 5/10 – The best of Liverpool’s three forwards, but that was a bit like choosing a favorite kick on a night to forget.
Xherdan Shaqiri – 5/10
James Milner – 6/10