80 min: Saints are letting this second half pass them by. It’s turning into a very end-of-season performance.
78 min: Jones’s dribbling is a real attribute to this Liverpool midfield. Henderson, Thiago, Fabinho and Elliott are passers, but Curtis Jones really carries the ball, commits markers and breaks the lines. He’s class.
76 min: Liverpool have been bang-average tonight. Not poor, not great, but are grinding out this result. Fair play to Klopp.
74 min: Yellow card for Stephens, who hauls down Origi on the half-way line, after a neat turn from the Belgian.
72 min: Those changes already seem to have enlivened the home side. Redmond sends a dangerous cross into the box and Tsimikas does well to deflect it behind.
69 min: Double change for Southampton: Diallo and Tella off, Romeu and Armstrong on.
What a strange goal! But Liverpool won’t care! A corner comes in from the left, there’s a near-post flick and the ball seems to just hit Matip’s head, balloon up in the air and loop over McCarthy into the top corner. It might be an own goal, with Walker-Peters also challenging Matip to the ball, but they give the goal to the Liverpool defender! Liverpool are set to take the title race to the final day, if it stays like this!
65 min: Sub for Liverpool: Elliott is replaced by Origi.
62 min: Alisson gets a little lucky with a clearance! He rushes out and very nearly sweeps the ball against Ward-Prowse, but instead the ball falls safely to Elliott. Liverpool set off on the counter-attack and after a couple of neat passes, Firmono fires straight at McCarthy. “I’ve never fancied Firmino from range,” utters Jamie Carragher on Sky’s co-commentary.
59 min: Lyanco is having a very good game. Been very efficient as clearing up the loose balls.
56 min: Surely we’ll be seeing Díaz soon. Liverpool need a little lift.
54 min: Chance for Elliott! Firmino plays a lovely weighted pass down the channel and Elliott scurries after it. With the ball on his weaker right, he takes an extra stride trying to sort his feet out, taking the Liverpool man a little wider, and Elliott can only fire his shot into the side netting. Should have done better!
52 min: Tsimikas is a tidy footballer. He’s no Robertson but great to have such a dependable back up. Definitely an upgrade on Moreno.
50 min: Milner crashes into Broja and Southampton have a free-kick about 35 yards out. A little further than Ward-Prowse would like and the Saints captain opts for power, but hits his shot straight into the wall.
48 min: Tsimikas does well down the left and fires a low cross towards the penalty spot. Jota kills it stone dead and in a flash, whips a shot just past the far post! Just a yard wide. Jota’s backlift is so small, he always seems to get a shot off.
Peeeeep! We’re underway again. Liverpool need a goal!
So Liverpool will make that change. Jordan Henderson will come on for Gomez, with Milner shifting to right back.
Meanwhile, in Notttingham … Forest are edging closer to the play-off final with Huddersfield. Brennan Johnson is some player.
As things stand, Liverpool have just a very slim chance of overcoming the three point (and seven goal) difference on Sunday.
45+2 min: Gomez crumples in a heap as he and Tella fall awkwardly. It looks as though the Liverpool defender trapped his left knee in the challenge. Oooo, could be a nasty one. But I’m pleased to report Gomez gets to his feet and walks to the sideline. It looks like Liverpool are going to assess the injury at half-time before deciding on whether to make a change.
45 min: Two minutes added on here.
44 min: This is a sensational little story.
“I was at the City Ground in April 1991 to watch Brian Clough’s Forest beat Liverpool 2-1 and *definitely* hand the title to Arsenal,” emails John Swan. “It was a cracking game, postponed from December because there had been a foot of snow in Nottingham. I nearly didn’t get in to the rearranged game because I’d kept my ticket on the window sill and it had faded in the sun, so the guy at the turnstile thought it was dodgy. Eek!”
42 min: Gomez boots a cross out for a goal-kick. Somewhere, Trent Alexander-Arnold wrinkles his nose.
40 min: The first-half is petering out a little. Southampton are defending deep and Liverpool are just doing a bit of tiki-taka, without any sort of threat.
36 min: Broja is going to be a very good striker for somebody in the future. He runs the channels, knows where the goal is, and gives Konaté and Matip a real going over. He could do a lot worse than come back on loan to Southampton next year.
That was a very strange moment. I always find Pep in front of the cameras a little inauthentic.
34 min: Elliott does well to dig out a cross and it catches the Southampton defence off guard! Firmino is alive to it and squares the ball across the six-yard box but Lyanco does well to clear from under his own crossbar!
32 min: “Was just about to say this was reminding me of when Saints beat Liverpool 1-0 in April 1991 to effectively hand Arsenal the title, then Liverpool scored,” rues Gregory Phillips. “There goes my chance to make use of one of the many useless bits of knowledge stuck in my addled brain.”
Decent nugget, though, Gregory!
30 min: The game is opening up a little. Jota is peeling wide left and finding space, Firmino has looked really sharp in the middle and is starting to pull a few strings.
The Japanese scores against the club he was on loan at last season! It’s a big goal, and it’s a very good one! Jota traps a tricky low cross from Gomez, and pops a lovely lay-off to Minamino, who takes a touch wide, before firing beautifully into the roof of the net. That was a tight angle and he fizzed it past McCarthy in an instant! We are level, and as things stand, we are going to the final day (just about).
23 min: Another angle of that foul on Jota has come up, and as a couple of you have pointed out, it was a clear foul on the Portuguese. VAR should really have picked that one up.
21 min: Looks like Liverpool are upping the tempo a little. But they haven’t created anything serious of note. Minamino has had a weak shot of goal, and there’s been a couple of hopeful crosses. But Southampton are packing the centre, and there’s no spaces between the lines. Liverpool are badly missing TAA and Robertson.
18 min: From a deep free-kick, Firmino get ahead of Salisu and nods back across goal inside the far post, but the linesman correctly flags for offside. Klopp’s celebrations on the sideline are cut short!
15 min: Klopp is absolutely livid, seemingly at the referee rather than his players. He thinks that was a foul on Jota in the build-up to the goal. He certainly took the ball but probably after the man. But it was marginal.
Is that the goal that hands Manchester City the title?! Liverpool have been lukewarm, and Southampton have caught them cold on the break. Lyanco wins the ball from Jota, and Redmond is released down the left wing. He cuts inside on his right foot and releases his shot from 18 yards out, taking a nick off Milner’s thigh and flying into the top corner. Allison no chance!
9 min: Broja latches onto a neat ball down the line, and suddenly he is one-on-on with Matip. A couple of feints and he darts past the Cameroonian but goes slightly too wide and Alisson comes out to narrow the angle and stop the cross/shot with his feet. Signs of life from the Saints!
7 min: Konaté goes down in a heap after a collision with someone at a Liverpool corner. Looks like Salisu gave him an accidental whack in the mouth. The Frenchman is going to be OK to continue.
4 min: A very lax start from both sides. Gomez, playing at right back today as he did at Newcastle, punts the ball out for a goal kick when trying to find Minamino down the line.
2 min: Some support here for the raft of changes made by Klopp.
“I think not enough credit is being given to Liverpool’s squad here,” emails Ricky Gill. “Liverpool coped well enough without Salah & Mane during Afcon. And without Salah, Mane, VVD, Fabinho and Trent to still have that bench speaks volumes about the depth of this squad right now. If there was a game where he could rest players after 120 minutes of relentless football, this was going to be it. I don’t think Klopp is throwing in the towel for the league, this was surely expected.”
“What are the odds that Villa beats City? Lottery odds. He can wear down his squad in a Man of La Mancha fantasy or he can give them the rest they need for realistic, attainable goals.”
Not sure about lottery odds. And the Champions League final is a full six days after the Wolves game. It’s not as though these Liverpool players are going to be run off their feet.
Peeeeeep! We’re off at St Mary’s.
The teams are out. Southampton in their red and white shirts, black shorts and white socks. Liverpool in their all-yellow number. The teams take a knee. There is no room for discrimination in our society.
This could be Armando Broja’s last game in a Southampton shirt at St Mary’s with the Saints’ final game away at Leicester. The 20-year-old has done brilliantly this season, and he certainly has a few options. It’s not impossible he could be in Chelsea’s squad next season, Newcastle are reportedly sniffing about or it could be another loan move. He’s done enough to sideline £15m signing Adam Armstrong this season. Armstrong was supposed to be the one to replace Danny Ings but has only two goals this season.
It’s been absolutely tipping it down on the south coast.
“You think Klopp knows the game is up and it’s time to concentrate on Big Cup?” emails Geoff Saunders.
It certainly seems that way. Klopp will claim he trusts his whole squad and that injuries and fatigue have forced his hand. If I was Pep, I would have the cigars at the ready.
Wow. That is quite the line up from Liverpool. We knew about Salah and VVD being out tonight, and heard that Robertson might have been suffering from cramp after his Wembley exploits. But there arae nine changes from Saturday. Nine!
Milner, Jones, Elliott, Minamino all come in from the cold. The latter two have particularly not had much game time of late. No Mané or Alexander-Arnold, even on the bench.
Southampton: McCarthy, Stephens, Lyanco, Salisu, Walker-Peters, Ward-Prowse, Diallo, Tella, Redmond, Elyounoussi, Broja.
Subs: Romeu, Long, Adam Armstrong, Adams, Caballero, Stuart Armstrong, Djenepo, Bednarek, Valery.
Liverpool: Alisson, Gomez, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas, Jones, Milner, Elliott, Minamino, Firmino, Jota.
Subs: Thiago, Keita, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Diaz, Robertson, Origi, Williams, Kelleher.
Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire)
If Liverpool lose tonight, Manchester City will be crowned champions of England. Win, and the Reds are lingering on the shoulder of the leaders, one point adrift, with just the final day of the season to come on Sunday. The stakes rarely get higher than this.
Most of us will be rooting for a Liverpool win tonight, because we all apparently support Klopp and co, but mainly because we just love a bit of drama. The prospect of Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa beating City to hand Liverpool the title on the final day is a delicious idea, however which way you cut it.
Klopp has already confirmed Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah will miss the trip to Southampton due to minor niggles, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Liverpool are relatively well stocked in those positions and the pair will be fit for the Champions League final and could return for Sunday’s game against Wolves.
For Southampton, this has been a dreadful end to the season but they are safe from relegation, despite a run in form that has seen them win just once – against Arsenal – in the last 10 league games. But they come into this “completely fresh” having had an 11-day break since their last outing at Brentford, and have taken points off Manchester City, Tottenham and Arsenal at St Mary’s Stadium this season.
“Last summer, we lost our best striker and other key players and people said we would struggle to stay clear of relegation,” Ralph Hasenhuttl said. “And we have had nothing to do with it. The teams that are down there would love to change places with us so this is a big achievement. Never forget that.”
Kick-off: 7.45pm BST.