De Futebol

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Liverpool had a chance to stay atop the league instead one of the top offenses in the EPL fired blanks in nil-nil draw against Southampton.

Chelsea defeated Middlesbrough one nil to jump to the top spot with 28 points. Liverpool is second with 27 points. Man Shitty is third with 27 points.

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The Daily Mail: “The hood went up, the hood came down, the hood went up again. At times, Jurgen Klopp appeared almost as indecisive in his handling of a south coast storm as his jet-lagged strikers were in their handling of straightforward chances.

How exasperating this must have been for the German, who watched Liverpool demolish this Southampton side and leave for home with only one soggy point to show for it.

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This really was a battering, a performance of sustained punishment that repeatedly showcased the creativity of Liverpool’s squad but none of the clinical competence that has been their strong suit this season.

They had summited the division for the first time since May 2014 on the back of solid finishing, with 30 goals scored in 11 games.

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But in this one a pair of trends were bucked, with Liverpool keeping a rare clean sheet – two for the season now – and failing to score for only the third league game in this campaign. They really were hopelessly weak in front of goal, which was underlined by the numbers showing they had 65 per cent possession, 15 shots on goal and yet only managed to get two on target.

A point at Southampton is, of course, a good result, but given Liverpool’s aims this season and the way this game was played, it should have been more.

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Klopp played down any sense of disappointment by flagging up Southampton’s merits, given they are a top-10 side with a fine record at home. But there was also no mistaking his arm-waving frustration on the sidelines as the chances came and went against a team that deliberately limited their ambition to counter-attacks.

Klopp said: ‘It was a really good performance against one of the best organised sides in the league. Very often in my life I have lost games when we have been so much better but we stayed concentrated.

‘I am not happy but I am fine.’

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A mitigation for the missed chances can found in the travel schedules of the most guilty. Sadio Mane, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino all wasted excellent opportunities, with the trio having each travelled upwards of 12,000 miles during the international break. Brazilians Coutinho and Firmino, for instance, did not return from South America until Thursday.

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Klopp said: ‘The performance was much better than can be expected when you think of our preparation before the game.

‘With players from South America it is more difficult because they have long flights and all that stuff. We got them back on Thursday but they couldn’t train.’

For Claude Puel, there was a degree of satisfaction at hitting an objective and also shaking off any lingering disappointment from losing against struggling Hull City last time out.

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‘I think in this game we won one point when we lost three points in our last game,’ the Southampton manager said.

‘Sometimes it is important to know to defend – we would like to play good football all the time, to take possession, but I think it is a good point and it is deserved for my players.’

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So effective were Southampton defensively that it took 28 minutes for the first Liverpool chance of any description, when a pair of former Saints players linked to almost put Liverpool in front.

Nathaniel Clyne, part of the 2015 exodus, caused trouble with a low cross from the right which was helped on by Georginio Wijnaldum to Mane, who was left of centre and in clear air. The shot back across goal was well hit, but the tip over the bar from Fraser Forster was exceptional.

Mane recoiled in irritation and did so again on 40 minutes when he was put through by Wijnaldum and was blocked by an excellent challenge from Virgil van Dijk. More frustration and waving.

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And Southampton? They offered next to nothing but defensive sweat. Puel had cited a statistic ahead of kick-off that Southampton were third in the Premier League for chances created and bottom for converting them, yet here they did not create a single opening in the first half.

Liverpool, by contrast, created plenty. In one instance, Coutinho completely miskicked when through on goal and Firmino fluffed another when he used the outside of his boot and shot wide when unopposed in front of Forster. It was possibly the worst miss of the lot.

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There was also an Emre Can drive over the bar and a Nathaniel Clyne header from seven yards that went wide. All very good chances, all blown, most off target.

In among it all, Charlie Austin headed wide from a Cedric cross with Southampton’s one and only opening. So it could have been worse for Liverpool. But Klopp will know it should have been better.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3952716/Southampton-0-0-Liverpool-Jurgen-Klopp-s-Reds-forced-share-point-St-Mary-s-stalemate.html#ixzz4QedbO3Qp

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