Southampton chose the right moments to press high and sit back on Saturday, and with that, handily beat Liverpool 3-1 at St. Mary’s Stadium. They had flair on the ball, and this was evident when Morgan Schneiderlin deftly flicked the ball into the right corner of the net with Liverpool keeper Brad Jones watching as the ball trickled in.
A little after the second Southampton goal, Adam Lallana could have made it 3-0 after a superb dummy move by the Saints on the left side of the 18-yard box. It looked like a Rafa Benitez-inspired Liverpool pass-and-move performance, but this time it wasn’t from the Reds.
Just three months ago, the Saints were looking lowly, sitting just outside of the relegation zone and heading downwards. Nigel Adkins, though he led Southampton from League One to the Premier League in a matter of two seasons, couldn’t work his magic any longer. Mauricio Pochettino, having saved Espanyol from relegation in the 2008-2009 season, was appointed coach in January, and the Southampton football revolution began.
There seems to be a new gusto at St. Mary’s. Southampton attacks with confidence against the big teams of the Premier League. The biggest result thus far has been the 3-1 victory over reigning champions Manchester City.
Pochettino was once talked of as Jose Mourinho’s successor at Real Madrid, and his tactical acumen and man management skills at Southampton have shown why. Ricky Lambert is tied for sixth in the Premier League top scorer’s list, a remarkable feat for a player at a club sitting just four points out of the bottom three.
Following the victory over Liverpool, Pochettino told Sky Sports, "In the first half we played a very good game and we had many, many chances to actually go 4-0 or 5-0 ahead." Putting in this kind of performance against a Liverpool team that has its mind set on dominating matches is no easy feat.
If Pochettino can manage to steer the Saints away from the relegation zone and into the light of the mid-table by the end of the season, Pochettino can add yet another accomplishment to his already impressive CV.