Saturday, September 22, 2018

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton: Shaqiri Stole the show

The Swiss attacker was involved in two goals as the Merseysiders beat Southampton 3-0 to record a seventh straight win in all competitions.

Liverpool's attacker Shaqiri celebrates one of his goals against Southampton

Welcome to Liverpool, Xherdan Shaqiri.
Anfield has had to wait for its first proper look at the Reds’ new £13million ($17m) signing, but they will have liked what they saw here.
'The Magnificent Seven' arrived with the minimum of fuss, with Mark Hughes’ sorry Southampton side brushed aside in the most routine of manners. Liverpool’s 3-0 victory was achieved without the need for third gear. Their best start to a season in 28 years shows no sign of slowing.
Having had just 34 minutes of competitive action so far, Shaqiri got just 45 here. With two assists, however, the Switzerland international sure made his presence felt, on a day which underlined the benefits of a well-stocked squad.
After using just 12 starters in Liverpool’s first five Premier League games, Jurgen Klopp was happy to turn to some of his replacements here. There were three changes from the midweek win over Paris Saint-Germain, with Shaqiri’s the headline inclusion.
Shaqiri celebrates
It meant a change of shape, with Klopp opting for an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation. Shaqiri lined up in a roving central role – the No.10, if you will – behind Mohamed Salah, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane operating either side. In defence, Joel Matip stepped in for Joe Gomez, for his first start since March.
On a gloomy Merseyside day, Shaqiri’s brightness was there for all to see. Given license to move across the pitch in search of space, the 26-year-old saw plenty of the ball and showed a willingness to work which will have delighted his manager.
It was his intelligent run, smart check-back and right-foot shot which led to Liverpool taking the lead just 10 minutes in. A pair of deflections, one off Shane Long and another off the hapless Wesley Hoedt, meant Alex McCarthy’s scrambling effort on the goal-line was in vain, and the Reds had the early nerve-settler they craved.
Matip, the other replacement drafted in, ensured things got even better 11 minutes later, rising above Jannik Vestegaard – no mean feat, that – to head home Trent Alexander-Arnold’s right-wing corner. It was the Cameroonian’s first Anfield goal.
Shaqiri looked desperate to follow suit, though with four out-and-out attackers on the field Liverpool looked a little more open than Klopp might have liked. A better side than Southampton, who were passive and lacking in confidence, would have made life harder.
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