Dare To Dream?
Liverpool sent out a very clear message to the teams around them on Saturday as they confidently beat Southampton 3-0 dealing with regular pressure from the away side's attack yet maintaining a clean sheet. Reds fans may wish to distance themselves from the thoughts of an elusive title but the fact is we are four points off the top with ten games to go.
Brendan Rodgers decided to drop Raheem Sterling for this fixture, instead opting for Joe Allen in the hope that the extra protection would aid a somewhat shaky defence. It was evident Raheem would still feature at some point in the game though.
The game started well for Liverpool who were quickly causing problems via the partnership of Sturridge and Suarez. A break saw Daniel Sturridge through on goal and whilst he would usually attempt the shot himself, this time he decided to pass to Suarez, an interception from the Southampton defender though denied the Reds a very early goal.
Shortly afterwards, at the other end of the pitch Southampton found themselves questioning the referee. A challenge from Flanagan on Lallana in the box was a risky move for Liverpool but I do feel it would have been harsh had the home side been given the spot kick.
At 15 minutes, Liverpool were off the mark. Some clever play from Suarez allowed him to pick up a throw in and break into action. A pass to Daniel Sturridge was then returned and with a bit of a lucky deflection off a Southampton player Suarez was through on goal and able to finish low to the left of Boruc.
Southampton may have been down but they knew they were not out. Liverpool have conceded plenty of goals lately and the likes of Lallana and Rodriguez were doing their best to put their side on the score sheet. Lallana in particular came very close when an effort of his came back out off the post to the relief of the Liverpool defence.
The pressure was certainly present from Southampton but Liverpool were dealing well with it. I also feel Skrtel had a good game, too often is he highlighted for his mistakes and so I feel it's important to make note when he puts in a good 90 minutes on the whole.
Another problem for Liverpool arose when a shot from Rodriguez left Simon Mignolet having to make a cracking save. Mignolet had kept the Reds in the game for sure there, if Southampton had found an equaliser, who knows what could have happened.
Early in the second half Brendan Rodgers decided to bring on Raheem Sterling for the rather ineffective Coutinho. He had a bad half in my opinion and was losing possession far too often. It was a good switch for me and it also meant the protection from Joe Allen was still present.
What I didn't expect was Raheem Sterling to get involved so quickly. Just one minute after his introduction, Sterling had scored Liverpool's second. A lovely pass from Steven Gerrard found its way to Luis Suarez, his run into the box and pin point pass to an encroaching Sterling then allowed the youngster to complete the move with a nice finish. The Reds were 2-0 up, just what they needed after seeing the earlier slip up from Arsenal and with only half an hour to go you had to feel Liverpool could hold on to all three points here.
Some continued pressure from Southampton left Liverpool still needing to stay alert for the remainder of the game but the Reds also had chances of their own including a long range effort from Steven Gerrard that forced Boruc into a save.
The three points were sealed though in stoppage time when Fonte took down Luis Suarez in the box. A penalty awarded to Liverpool was taken by Steven Gerrard who placed his spot kick high into goal.
It was a strong performance from Liverpool to keep out the Southampton attack but also score three goals. Liverpool haven't performed well at St Mary's for a while and it's games like this that show real title intent.
It's very hard not to get excited at the moment because we're in a superb position and we also have to face City and Chelsea at Anfield, we have no other competitions to worry about either and with Suarez and Sturridge up front you can't write us off.
I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received.
Next up for Liverpool is Manchester United.