The Return of The Midfield Maestro
If you know your Liverpool Football Club history you will know that today marks the 53rd anniversary of Bill Shankly's arrival at Anfield. An arrival that ensured Liverpool became one of most successful teams in England.
He took over from Phil Taylor, whose death was announced this morning and I am sure all Liverpool supporters will join with in saying, Rest In Peace Phil and thank you for doing what you did for Liverpool Football Club.
Today was also the day that Liverpool began the game with a minute's applause for the young academy player, Stephen Packer who lost his fight against cancer. Lucas tweeted his condolences to the family during the week and again on behalf of all Liverpool supporters, Rest in Peace Stephen and I know that your family will be comforted by the fact that you are now free of pain and in peace. They will also be aware that you will be looking down on them.
It was also the day that saw the return of Lucas Leiva to the starting line-up and what a difference it made to the midfield.
Liverpool appeared to the more comfortable of the two teams from the moment the game kicked off, although to start with they played the slow tikka takka style of football. Southampton began to show signs of waking up and you did begin to wonder if it was going to be yet another of those games where we could only manage a draw.
Now I don't know what happened, but suddenly the team dropped the tikka takka style of football and the style of play became a lot more fluid with balls being kicked everywhere at speed. This led to total of 14 shots aimed at the goal, several of which hit the obligatory post. Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez, Jonjo Shelvey, Stevie G, Jose Enrique and Glen Johnson all sent balls towards the goal but it was left to Daniel Agger to ensure that a good old fashioned header found the back of the net. A header that ensured Liverpool went into the half time break in the lead.
Southampton appeared to be a little lost although they did get a chance to score just before half time when Rickie Lambert sent a long range shot towards Pepe Reina, who slightly panicked but managed to stop the ball.
There were also several instances of time wasting by the Southampton goalie, who was eventually spoken to by referee Michael Oliver. How he never got a yellow card I guess is one of life's little mysteries.
When Liverpool came out for the second half, it looked as though they had, had a lot of energy drained out of them. They slowed down whereas Southampton came out for the second half looking like a totally different team. For the next twenty minutes, they began to show that perhaps Liverpool were as vulnerable has they have been in recent weeks. Their players were beginning to find their way through our defence and I guess if luck had not been on our side, then they may well have scored.
Suddenly, something must have clicked with the Liverpool team because the urgency reappeared and the movement that we had seen in the first half was evident was once again. Jose Enrique who has found a new release of energy picked up a pass from Luis Suarez but his kick was deflected by Luke Shaw.
Luis Suarez was his usual self of course marauding in and out of the area whilst trying to find a way to score. Unfortunately today as he and shot went towards the goal, he touched it with his arm and was awarded his fifth yellow card of the season. A yellow card that sees him automatically suspended for Liverpool's trip to West Ham next weekend.
It will be interesting to see who Brendan Rodgers plays in the striker role in his place. My own opinion is that he will play a front two of Raheem and Jonjo. What we do have though, is Lucas back and as I said above the transformation in the way the midfield operated today was fantastic and it helped us to see the old Stevie G once again.
Today though, Liverpool won a game at home and hopefully it is once again the start of a good run. A run that will hopefully see us climb the table and prove to those who still harbour doubts about this season that Liverpool albeit slowly are on their way back. It also showed that you do not need slow tikka takka football when you have players that prefer playing at speed and chasing the ball.