Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to the hands of Southampton was more disappointing for the performance, than the result itself.
In fairness to the Saints, they came to Anfield and played a very impressive game of football. They were composed, strong and a great collective group. Considering they finished 20 points behind Liverpool last season, Mauricio Pochettino’s side have come on leaps and bounds over the summer.
There were worries with the Reds’ performance though. I’m not usually critical of Brendan Rodgers, but he got it wrong on Saturday.
Lining up with four natural centre-backs across the back raised a few eyebrows at kick-off, but it’s not something that hasn’t been tried (and worked) before.
Gerard Houllier had a back four of Jamie Carragher, Stephane Henchoz, Sami Hyypia and Markus Babel when Liverpool won the treble in 2001.
However, Mamadou Sakho is not a left-back, nor is Kolo Toure a right-back. Not, at least in the wing-back system Rodgers has been encouraging this year.
Sakho looked panicked on the left-side and then looked a relieved man when Jose Enrqiue came on during the second half to resume his role there.
Toure on the other hand bumbled his way down the right side, but was no substitute for the injured Glen Johnson.
Whilst Enrique and Cissokho, when fit, solve Liverpool’s left sided problems, I’m not too sure Liverpool’s transfers over the summer accounted for losing Johnson for a long period.
But the real problem Liverpool face, in my opinion, is the midfield engine.
When Steven Gerrard and Lucas switch off, there is a gaping hole between defence and midfield. The connection is missing, and therefore Liverpool looked incapable of pushing the ball forward with any sort of threat.
It has happened in second halves of games this season and has been commented upon by pundits. Against Southampton, Liverpool lacked that route between defence and attack throughout.
Iago Aspas is continuing to struggle in the physical Premier League, while the introduction of Raheem Sterling at half-time gave Liverpool some width, but he too was constantly ushered out of the game by the resolute Saints defence.
Southampton was the last team to beat Liverpool before this game and could well turn out to be Rodgers’ bogey team.
All attentions now turn to Wednesday with the League Cup third round trip to Old Trafford and the return of you-know-who.