Liverpool “recognisable” again on “strangely bittersweet” afternoon

    Liverpool go into the World Cup break with a 3-1 win over Southampton, with the watching media assessing a positive afternoon.

    The Reds weren’t always at their brilliant best on Saturday, but a vibrant first-half performance was enough to see them pick up three vital Premier League points.

    Roberto Firmino buried an early header and the electric Darwin Nunez scored twice, meaning Liverpool go into the six-week break in better shape than earlier in the campaign.

    Here’s how the media assessed the Liverpool win.

    It was another valuable victory for the Reds, who finally look like themselves again…

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    BBC Sport‘s Neil Johnston was impressed with what he saw at Anfield:

    “Liverpool’s players enjoyed themselves in the absence of their German boss from the dugout as they scored all three goals in an enthralling opening 45 minutes.

    […]

    “Klopp will spend the next few weeks with those staying behind including Mohamed Salah and Firmino.

    “It was striking how all of Firmino’s outfield team-mates celebrated with him after scoring his seventh Premier League goal of the season after the disappointment of his omission from Brazil’s squad.”

    This Is Anfield‘s Mark Delgado thinks Liverpool have turned a big corner:

    “Whisper it, but this looked quite like Liverpool Football Club.

    “Decent buildup down the flanks, powerful running in behind the defence, a clinical edge and plenty of chance creation in open play – and, yes, even a goalkeeper making some crucial saves after periods of inactivity.

    “This wasn’t Liverpool at their best, let’s not get carried away, but it was recognisable. It was our game plan, our blueprint.

    “It looked like a sustainable way of playing and winning.

    “After months of uncertainty and tactical shuffling, a dearth of energy and dismal results, this was a good step back to what we hope to see on a much more consistent basis after Christmas.”

    Ian Doyle of the Liverpool Echo was another who enjoyed the hosts’ performance:

    “The manner in which the Reds backed up their impressive win at Tottenham Hotspur last Sunday by swatting aside Southampton here at Anfield offered sufficient optimism to sustain Liverpool fans throughout the next five or so weeks.

    “Throw in the Champions League triumph over Napoli and the Carabao Cup downing of Derby County on penalties, the Reds have earned four successive victories for the first time this season, and are still in touch with the Premier League top four.

    […]

    “This farewell victory was won before half-time, when not even the shock of a Southampton equaliser could alter the pattern of play during a first half in which Liverpool were irresistible going forward.”

    Alisson and Nunez were singled out for specific praise…

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring his side's third goal, his second of the game, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring his side's third goal, his second of the game, during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    The Mirror‘s Nathan Ridley believes Alisson is the best in the world in his position:

    “While Darwin Nunez and Liverpool’s attackers will be in the headlines, Alisson Becker deserves a pat on the back from his dressing room for another assured performance between the posts.

    “Making a number of excellent saves in the second half to prevent a nervy finish, the Brazilian shot-stopper has been the true saviour of the Reds’ ramshackle start to the campaign, showing why he goes into the World Cup as surely the best goalkeeper on the planet.”

    In Nunez, Jolly of the Independent feels Anfield has a new hero:

    “When Darwin Nunez first lined up for Liverpool at Anfield, he exited early and in disgrace. As he heads off to the World Cup, it is in form and in the hearts of many of their fans.

    “He departed with the Kop singing his name in celebration, while there is a mural of him outside the Anfield Road Stand.

    […]

    “Nunez is proof fortunes can change. Much of the story of Liverpool’s season so far can be told through him and, after that awful opening impression, he has made a more positive stamp in the last five weeks.

    “His double took his tally to seven goals in his last 10 games. His performance showed his capacity to wreak havoc.”

    Chris Bascombe of the Telegraph thinks Nunez’s doubters are now very quiet:

    Darwin Nunez has shown he can be a killer in front of goal and slayer of malicious chants.

    “Remember those jibes about him being ‘the s*** Andy Carroll’ that shadowed Liverpool’s record purchase in those awkward early moments of his Premier League career? They are unlikely to be heard inside Anfield any time soon.

    “Nunez is only two Liverpool goals behind the aforementioned Carroll, the difference being the ex-Newcastle United forward reached that tally in 56 appearances over two years.

    “Nunez struck another two on his 18th appearance for the club against Southampton.”

    Now it’s time to go up a gear after the World Cup…

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, November 12, 2022: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Southampton FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

    Delgado assessed Liverpool’s top-four outlook heading into Qatar:

    “That’s the overriding objective for the remainder of this season for sure, finding a way to get back into the Champions League spots.

    “Of course, we’ll be aiming to beat Real Madrid too and continue that journey, but realistically that’s only going to happen if the Reds are in consistent, impressive form – which comes in league play.

    […]

    “We still haven’t won three league games in a row and the first chance to rectify that will come on Boxing Day – after, of course, our Carabao Cup fourth round clash with Man City.

    […]

    “A decent step forward in our last game before the break – now good luck to all those Reds headed to the finals!”

    Finally, Doyle argued whether the World Cup has arrived at a bad time, following Liverpool’s upturn in fortunes:

    “How typical the moment for which many Liverpool supporters have been desperately waiting should prove so strangely bittersweet.

    “Despite a season that has thus far at times proven interminably painful, there will have been a certain sense of regret when Anfield waved goodbye to their heroes for the foreseeable future.

    “Rather than being warmly embraced as an opportunity to refresh and reset, the break for the World Cup comes at a time when Jurgen Klopp’s side have finally gained a semblance of momentum.

    “Of course, such has been Liverpool’s inconsistency since the summer, it would be foolish to offer any conclusive argument a corner has been turned. There have been too many false dawns to justify such a bold claim.”

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