Three talking points as Liverpool eased past Southampton at Anfield
A brace from Mohamed Salah helped Liverpool cruise past Southampton to register their third consecutive Premier League victory.
The Egypt international struck twice in 10 first-half minutes before Philippe Coutinho rounded off an excellent team performance with a third goal midway through the second period.
The Reds remain fifth in the table, but are now only one point adrift of a Champions League spot. Meanwhile, Southampton continue to tumble down the standings after succumbing to their second defeat on the trot.
Here are three talking points to emerge from an intriguing encounter at Anfield…
Mesmeric Salah proving value for money to Liverpool
It is only November, but Salah is already staking his claim to be the signing of the summer.
The former Chelsea forward joined Liverpool from Roma for a club-record fee and is proving it was money well spent.
His double against Southampton lifted him to the top of the Premier League goalscoring charts, despite not playing as an out-and-out striker.
Salah’s influence is reflected in more than just goals, however.
He has complemented the phalanx of attacking talent that Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal.
He really does have an embarrassment of riches when you factor in Sadio Mane, Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana, who is close to a first-team return.
With pace to burn and an eye for a pass, Salah has been a wonderful addition to the squad and continues to go from strength to strength.
Pellegrino suffering from a familiar failing
Despite having guided Southampton to an eighth-place finish and the Carling Cup final last season, Claude Puel was sacked as manager.
The reason given was the football did not meet the required level of entertainment, with goals particularly hard to come by at home.
Twelve matches into the new campaign, new boss Mauricio Pellegrino is suffering from the same issue. His side have scored only nine goals and won three times, sitting 14th in the table.
It’s hard not to feel a great deal of sympathy for Puel, who is now in the Leicester City hot-seat.
Realistically, Southampton are never going to break into the ‘big six’ and should be more than satisfied with a top-half finish, even if the football is not particularly sparkling.
Pellegrino may need to dip into the transfer market come January, with a striker capable of netting regularly top of his list given that Manolo Gabbiadini has gone off the boil.
Defensive solidity underpinning Liverpool’s progress
Scoring goals is never usually Liverpool’s problem – it is at the opposite end.
As much as Klopp will be thrilled with the penetrating football his side produced, he will be just as pleased with another clean sheet.
Since being thumped by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley last month, where they were shambolic, the Reds have tightened up defensively and conceded only once in their next three Premier League outings.
Particularly against the top teams, Liverpool may have to compromise their renowned attacking play to a degree for defensive stability. Ultimately, it is those matches that will define their season.
Incidentally, in the Southampton line-up was Virgil van Dijk, the subject of a very public pursuit by Liverpool last summer. Will Klopp go back in for the Dutchman in the forthcoming transfer window?