Southampton 0-0 Liverpool: Hosts blunt Reds in St Mary's stalemate

Liverpool couldn't find a way past Southampton's stubborn defence at St Mary's.

Southampton 0-0 Liverpool: Hosts blunt Reds in St Mary's stalemate
Firmino and Van Dijk toiled against eachother (photo: Getty Images / Clive Rose)
Southampton
0 0
Liverpool
Southampton: Forster; Cedric, Van Dijk, Fonte, Bertrand; Romeu, Davis, Hojberg (Reed 78'), Boufal (Long 68'); Redmond, Austin (Rodriguez 75').
Liverpool: Karius; Clyne, Lovren, Matip, Milner; Henderson, Can (Sturridge 78'), Wijnaldum; Mane (Origi 90+1'), Coutinho, Firmino.
SCORE: 0-0.
REFEREE: Mark Clattenburg (ENG): Booked - Cedric, Coutinho.
INCIDENTS: Premier League fixture at St Mary's Stadium.

Liverpool's winning run was brought to an end as they were held to a 0-0 draw at Southampton on Saturday, with some excellent defending from the likes of Virgil van Dijk combining with some poor finishing to see the match end goalless. 

There was a surprise before kick-off, as Philippe Coutinho was named in Jürgen Klopp's starting 11, despite reports in the last few days suggesting that he'd only be fit enough for the bench.

Southampton couldn't field Dusan Tadic due to a facial injury sustained on international duty, but the likes of Ryan Bertrand and  Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg were selected after being doubts.

Slow start to even first half

There seemed to be something of an international break hangover as the game got underway, with neither side making too much headway going forward early on, Southampton understandably cautious in their play due to Liverpool's free-scoring nature. 

The hosts looked to trouble the Reds with the high-ball early on, one falling to the feet of Bertrand who had a stinging effort deflected wide by Joel Matip, but in truth that - and a poor Cedric Soares effort - was the closest that they got in the first half. 

Reds attack vs Van Dijk an intriguing battle throughout

Klopp's side managed to create the best opportunity of the half just short of the 30 minute mark. Coutinho pinged a pass out to Nathaniel Clyne on the right, with the full-back feeding Roberto Firmino in the middle. Quick link-up between him and Georginio Wijnaldum saw the ball eventually presented to Sadio Mane, the Senegalese forcing Fraser Forster into a fantastic save as the ball was swept towards the top corner. 

That wasn't Mane's only chance of the half, as an exquisite touch when fed the ball later on saw him spin Virgil van Dijk and get clear on goal. However, the Dutch centre-back wasn't done yet, recovering brilliantly to tackle Mane just as he was about to pull the trigger. 

Liverpool seemed to come out for the second half with even more renwed vigour, and could have had a penalty just minutes after the whistle was blown for the restart, Firmino going down under a shirt pull from van Dijk in the area, with nothing given.

Firmino didn't let that get him dwon, and continued his lively performance by capitalising on a mistake in midfield to thread Coutinho through. However, he couldn't get his shot right, hitting the ball from one foot onto the other before it fell wide. 

Austin and Firmino miss golden opportunities 

The visitors didn't have it all their own way though, with Charlie Austin wasting a golden chance at the other end. Emre Can gave the ball away in midfield and Cedric was sent away down the right, crossing expertly for Austin who headed narrowly wide of Loris Karius' goal. 

That wasn't the start of a period of Southampton pressure, Liverpool going back up the other end with their finest chance of the game. Coutinho fed Firmino this time with a smart pass, but as the striker got free inside the area, he poked wide. 

Many away fans were screaming for Klopp to introduce Daniel Sturridge, and he eventually did so in the 78th minute. The frontman had an immediate impact, moving well in the area before floating a delightful cross towards Nathaniel Clyne, the full-back heading off-target. 

That was to be the last meaningful chance of the afternoon, Liverpool retaining their spot at the top of the table, at least until Chelsea visit Middlesbrough on Sunday.