Southampton managed to qualify for the final of the EFL Cup, beating Liverpool 2-0 on aggregate. It was a professional performance from the South Coast side as they defended in numbers and threatened on the counter attack. The victory was made even sweeter by the fact that they managed to march on, despite the absence of their best player Virgil van Dijk. Liverpool were hoping to reach their third final under Jurgen Klopp, but they couldn’t manage to break Southampton down. Here are three things that we learnt…
Liverpool aren’t as good without Sadio Mane
The Reds have played six matches in all competitions since the Senegalese international left for Africa, picking up only one victory and that came against League Two Plymouth Argyle. Their attack is much more predictable and they lack the pace that is provided by Mane. Opposition teams can afford to defend higher up the pitch and that in turn helps in the counter attack. Southampton should have been there for the taking considering their club captain Jose Fonte was sold last week, while his defensive partner Virgil van Dijk missed the game through injury.
However, Liverpool toiled throughout the game and struggled to create many clear-cut chances. The closest they came to scoring was due to a mistake from Southampton goalkeeper Fraser Forster rather than excellent attacking play from the hosts. Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge were the starting attackers for Liverpool. All three are internationals and proven at the top end of the Premier League, but as a combination, they simply don’t work. It is worrying how reliant Liverpool are on Mane and it is certainly something that needs to be addressed.