It didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make his mark, netting a beautifully arranged solo goal in fifteen minutes and doubling the Reds’ lead, but the pre-match cheers for our outgoing vice-captain were also on point. YOU.
A banner away from home paid tribute to him, but it was far from a classic outing as he was slightly bypassed in the middle and ended up playing full-back.
however, the lineup may have left fans wondering if other names might also be saying goodbye.
Caoimhin Kelleher started in goal just days after it was rumored that at least three clubs were interested in him, while Jurgen Klopp said he wouldn’t leave unless there was a big offer .
Kelleher failed to parry the first proper try he faced and certainly should have done better as Kamaldeen Sulemana equalized in what was hardly the best first-team comeback for the Irish centre-back. It was these 90 minutes, but it was also this season as a whole – a Liverpool side were miles short of their best save on a few select occasions and one that cannot be repeated in terms of inconsistency or sloppiness or otherwise.
Firmino dropped more than one player on his back and went 2-0 home at which point, against the worst team in the league, there’s only one way you expect the game to go: push them further into misery and ensure that our own mindset and focus are right.
It was not, or even close. And if a deadly last game of the season is any excuse for this kind of performance, then there are simply too many players like that at the club.
We have heard for years how Milner and Jordan Henderson, more than anyone, ‘set the standard’ for this club, in terms of training and level of performance, prepare properly and do what needs to be done to ensure that professionalism matches the expertise and results in non-stop victories.
So this year is no longer the case? Or are they excused from dictating standards if the result is absurd?
Either way, it’s unclear what Henderson brings to the field these days as his technical and athletic level is well below what is required.
The fact that he easily passed the ball to the Saints’ fourth goal (!) was anything but an isolated case this season.
Meanwhile, Milner and Fabinho have shown just how bad things have gone in midfield this season, as they didn’t have a chance to make up for it after half-time when Sulemana ran behind them and scored his second and Saints’ third.
So much change is needed in this area of the park and this summer is huge – we have to get it right. So issues in midfield and a defensive structure, but not necessarily the usual defensive quartet that still have gaps to fill.
But in attack there are still reasons for hope.Somehow, Liverpool played a game in which there were eight goals and Mo Salah scored none. He came closest to his 20 goals of the season with a shot that hit the post.
Still, Diogo Jota offered one and buried another, Cody Gakpo scored and nearly netted a brace…and of course Firmino gave us one last moment to smile at the start.
Add to that the fact that Luis Diaz is still in top form, hope Darwin Nunez finds both form and a role in the team next season and there is still room to believe next season will be a lot. smoother, the final third could have been more efficient and consistent after a full pre-season in this form – and there are some new faces. The end of a season, not as magical as Liverpool’s usual, but perhaps necessary given the scale of the changes that were so clearly needed.
What’s happening now is obvious: within the next 48 hours, fans will start raging that five signings haven’t been finalized, or, if so, they’ll spend the whole of August bitching about it in plus, five more did not materialize.
Seriously, the planning starts quickly, even if the players are already going on summer vacation.
Hopefully the limited international action – some have qualifiers, of course, but no tournaments – will mean a long and well-deserved rest for some who have been out of step for too long, including perhaps some coaches.
We’ll see if it’s used as a testing ground for kids, a race for substitutes, or a competition to be taken seriously – or rather a competition that changes priorities as we delve deeper. Enjoy the summer off, Reds, and hopefully we won’t see another 10 months like this soon.
Southampton 4-4 Liverpool: Player Ratings
Liverpool drew 4-4 at Southampton in a bonkers final-day Premier League contest, with Caoimhin Kelleher and Diogo Jota experiencing differing fortunes.
Southampton 4-4 Liverpool
Premier League (38), St Mary’s Stadium
May 28, 2023
Goals: Ward-Prowse 19′, Sulemana 28′ & 47′, Armstrong 64′; Jota 10′ & 74′, Firmino 14′, Gakpo 73′
Caoimhin Kelleher (out of 10) – 4
Kelleher was handed his first league start of the season – whether or not this is his final appearance for Liverpool remains to be seen.
The Irishman will be disappointed that he didn’t prevent Kamaldeen Sulemana’s opening goal, with the ball squeezing under him.
If we’re being ultra-critical, James Ward-Prowse’s strike wasn’t right in the corner, either, in what was a below-par display, despite saving to deny Kyle Walker-Peters in stoppage time.
It felt like his value was dropping by the minute!
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7
It has been a tough campaign for Alexander-Arnold, but he finished it with a good performance, again standing out in his new hybrid midfield role.
One lovely incisive pass proved key in the lead-up to Roberto Firmino‘s goal, and his general use of the ball was classy throughout.
Joe Gomez – 5
Gomez was given his first start since the 0-0 draw away to Chelsea early last month, but he didn’t exactly look like a top-class presence at the heart of the defence.
The 26-year-old came close to scoring his first-ever Reds goal, but got it all wrong at the back post, and he was part of a back-line that shipped four goals to the Premier League‘s worst team.
Could he be gone in the summer?
Joel Matip – 5
Like Gomez, this was a rare outing for Matip, who has well and truly lost his place in Liverpool’s strongest lineup.
The centre-back missed a good chance with a guided header in the first half, and defensively he never looked as dominant as he once did.
Possibly he, more than Gomez, could be gone in the summer.
Kostas Tsimikas – 4
Tsimikas came in for Andy Robertson, but this was a fairly forgettable showing.
Too much of his all-round game was either unconvincing or lacking, and it goes to show how big the gulf in class remains between Liverpool’s two left-backs.
Subbed with half an hour to go.
Fabinho – 6
Like so many, Fabinho won’t look back on the 20222/23 with fondness and his laughable attempt to stop Sulemana for his second goal summed up his season.
At the other end, the Brazilian provided an assist for his compatriot Firmino on his final game for the club.
Will we see the real Fabinho again next term? He certainly needs to sort out his form.
James Milner – 7
Milner made his 332nd and final appearance for the Reds, bringing to an end the career of arguably the greatest free transfer in the club’s history.
The veteran dragged a left-footed effort wide of the target, in what would have been a lovely moment, but open-play goals from him have become as rare as a dodo!
Otherwise, Milner stuck to his task well, despite not offering a huge amount of quality, and it was fitting that he ended his Liverpool career at left-back – Mr Versatile, Mr Reliable, Mr Everything.
Curtis Jones – 5
Jones has been in sparkling form since earning a sustained run in the team – no midfielder has scored more goals this season – but he was really quiet here.
That’s not to say that he didn’t have good moments, with one lovely flick showcasing his technical ability, but he allowed the game to drift by him a little.
Mohamed Salah – 6
Salah has been Liverpool’s best outfield player this season, despite not always being at his best, but he was arguably the quietest of the Reds’ attacking players against Saints.
That being said, he still got an assist for Jota’s second of the afternoon, and hit the post with a missed-control at 4-4, also being denied late on.
A really good season, especially given the circumstances.
Diogo Jota – 7 (Man of the Match)
Jota came into the team, taking up a left-sided role, and it proved to be a successful end to the campaign on an individual note.
He was gifted the opening goal of the game, following a dreadful misplaced pass by rumoured Liverpool target Romeo Lavia and finished the scoring with a great finish.
He’s been a real loss through injury for much of the campaign.
Roberto Firmino – 7
It was an emotional day for Firmino as he bid farewell, and it was just like Bobby to finish things with a goal.
He took his strike superbly, putting two players on their backsides and firing a low shot into the net – and while he was poor in the lead-up to Sulemana’s goal, we’ll let him off on this occasion!
Firmino bows out as the 16th-highest goalscorer of all time for the Reds with a tally of 111 strikes. What a footballer.
Harvey Elliott (on for Tsimikas, 56′) – 6
Got into a bit of scrap and hit the target with a decent shot from distance.
Luis Diaz (on for Firmino, 56′) – 6
Good for Jota’s second goal, looked lively.
Jordan Henderson (on for Fabinho, 56′) – 5
Terrible pass gifted substitute Armstrong a goal – sums up his season.
Cody Gakpo (on for Jones, 56′) – 7
Scored to make it 4-3 and nearly won it – he’s been one of the positives to take from this season.
Subs not used: Adrian, Konate, Williams, Arthur, Carvalho
Jurgen Klopp – 6
Klopp won’t want to remember this season for too long, and this was a case of simply finishing the campaign.
The German made seven changes in total and it was nice to see him give Milner and Firmino the nod – whether that’s another show of him being too loyal or sentimental is open to debate.
Klopp won’t have been happy about some of the defending on show, with Saints’ goals indicative of Liverpool’s issues at the back all season long.
A big summer rest and then time to go again for the boss – for all his legendary status and brilliance, there simply has to been an enormous improvement in 2022/23.
The lowest points total in a full season under his management. Things need to be significantly better next season.
Player ratings definitions: 10 = Faultless | 9 = Excellent | 8 = Very Good | 7 = Good | 6 = Average | 5 = Below Par | 4 = Bad | 3 = Very Bad | 2 Awful | 1 = Surely Not
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