EPL

Southampton 1-2 Liverpool: Reds take Premier League title bid to last day

By Sports Desk May 17, 2022

Joel Matip ensured the Premier League title race will go to the final day as Liverpool came from behind to win 2-1 at Southampton.

A Reds team showing nine changes from the weekend's FA Cup final over Chelsea found themselves down early through a fine Nathan Redmond strike.

However, Liverpool responded through a thunderous Takumi Minamino strike before the break and went on to secure the win in the second half as Matip headed home a corner in the 67th minute.

Victory moved Jurgen Klopp's men to just a point behind Manchester City at the summit, meaning the teams' respective final-day showdowns with Wolves and Aston Villa will decide the destination of the title.

Liverpool enjoyed plenty of the ball early on but were given a scare when Armando Broja escaped on the break before being denied by the trailing leg of Alisson.

A failure to heed that warning was punished with just 13 minutes gone as another Southampton counter ended with Redmond cutting in off the left to thrash a curling effort into the top-right corner.

Klopp was incensed by the failure to award a foul on Diogo Jota in the build-up to that goal, but that did not stop his team responding well to the setback.

They were denied an equaliser when Roberto Firmino was flagged offside in heading home a free-kick, but restored parity after 27 minutes as Minamino smashed home a cute Diogo Jota pass at close range.

That prompted a spell of Liverpool dominance, though they were unable to punish some lax Saints defending before a half-time break that saw Joe Gomez withdrawn due to injury. Jota poked the ball inches wide shortly after the restart following great work from Kostas Tsimikas.

The chances kept coming, Harvey Elliott hitting the side-netting, Jota skewing wide, and Firmino sending in a weak shot from distance. As such, it was no real surprise when the goal eventually came and, in fact, neither was the method.

Only Leicester City had conceded more headers than Southampton in the Premier League this term, while Liverpool had scored a league-high 15 goals in that manner and added another when Matip met Tsimikas' corner to loop one in.

Southampton tried to rally from there, but struggled to see much of the ball as Liverpool ensured City still have work to do on the final day.

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    At the end of February 2022, Leeds United bosses had seen enough.

    "This has been the toughest decision I have had to make," said chairman Andrea Radrizzani at the time.

    Leeds had taken just one point from six games, leaving them only two points above the relegation zone. A 4-0 home defeat by Tottenham was the final straw for Marcelo Bielsa, who was dismissed on February 27. 

    At the beginning of February 2023, Leeds United bosses had again seen enough as they parted company with Bielsa's successor Jesse Marsch.

    Leeds have taken just three points from their past seven games, leaving them level on points with Everton in the final relegation spot, albeit having played a game fewer than the three teams below them.

    Unlike Bielsa, who ended the club's long wait to get back into the Premier League and then guided them to a ninth-placed finish in their first season back, Marsch never truly won over the fanbase.

    Whereas Bielsa had murals dedicated to him all over west Yorkshire throughout his time in change, with his exit doing little to impact the esteem he's held in around Leeds, Marsch's year in charge will likely soon be a distant memory.

    Indeed, the 95-word statement put out by the club on Monday confirming his departure – with no comment from Radrizzani or his peers – was as brutal as it was damning.

    And so Leeds are now on the lookout for a new man to keep them in the division, with Carlos Corberan – who has impressed in his four months at West Brom – the early frontrunner to take charge.

    Bielsa is also reportedly among the contenders to succeed the man who succeeded him, while Mauricio Pochettino, Ange Postecoglou and Ralph Hasenhuttl have been touted as other options.

    New manager bounce?

    Pulling the plug on Marsch's tenure was a big call by Leeds chiefs, coming in the same week they face Manchester United in back-to-back Premier League games.

    It will be only the second time in the competition's history that the same two teams have met in successive games, following Arsenal's 2-0 and 4-2 wins over Bolton Wanderers in January 2010.

    Leeds are in a race against time to bring a new man in before the first of those games at Old Trafford on Wednesday, although they then have a further four days ahead of welcoming their fierce rivals back to Elland Road.

    As it stands, Marsch's assistant Chris Armas, who previously worked as Ralf Rangnick's right-hand man at Old Trafford last season, is expected to oversee the midweek match in Manchester.

    A new manager bounce would come in handy for at least one of those games. In the view of many Leeds fans, simply having anyone other than Marsch in the dugout will boost their chances of getting a result.

    Whether it be a caretaker or a permanent head coach, though, history suggests bringing in someone new ahead of playing United very rarely pays off.

    Of the 16 previous occasions a manager or caretaker has taken charge of his first Premier League match against United, the Red Devils have won 12 times, drawn once and lost only three times.

    However, the most recent such instance was just three months ago when Unai Emery inspired Aston Villa to a 3-1 home win against Erik ten Hag's side, ending United's nine-match winning run in such encounters.

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    Perhaps a more telling statistic, though, is the one that highlights just how badly Leeds have performed in this fixture down the years, regardless of who has been at the helm.

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    That winless run goes back even further when only accounting for top-flight matches played at Old Trafford, where they were last victorious in February 1981. 

    Returning to the elite after 16 years away has done little to change the one-sided nature of this fixture, with Leeds losing three of their four meetings over the past two campaigns and drawing the other.

    The 15 goals they have conceded against United in 6-2 5-1 and 4-2 defeats are second only to the 16 shipped against Manchester City over that same period.

    Furthermore, since the start of last season, Leeds have taken just one point from their eight games against sides starting the day in the top three.

    Marsch or not, this was always going to be a match in which the odds were stacked massively against Leeds, particularly with their opponents on a 13-game winning streak at Old Trafford in all competitions.

    That is the Red Devils' best run since a record 20 wins in a row between December 2010 and September 2011.

    Plenty to play for

    Ending that barren run will go a long way to boosting Leeds' survival hopes, although ultimately whoever comes in will have 16 matches after this week's unique double-header to steer the Whites to safety.

    Without a win in seven Premier League games, with that the longest ongoing run of any side, it hardly came as a big surprise to see Marsch given his marching orders on the back of 1-0 loss at Nottingham Forest.

    The American departs with a Premier League win percentage of 25 across his 32 matches, which is the second-lowest of any Leeds boss in the division after Eddie Gray (24 per cent).

    Another new era now beckons at Elland Road, and whoever it is that replaces Marsch will have their work cut out in the short term keeping Leeds above the dotted line.

    Whether that can be achieved remains to be seen. But if we have learned anything about Leeds throughout the Premier League era, it is that it will certainly make for entertaining viewing either way.

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    The tremors have killed more than 2,000 people, and reports suggest search and rescue teams are still looking for Atsu, along with his club's sporting director Taner Savut.

    Atsu, 31, scored a stoppage-time winner for Hatayspor in Sunday's Super Lig game against Kasimpasa.

    The Ghana Football Association was seeking to make contact with Hatayspor as news was awaited on the player's wellbeing.

    "We pray for Ghana international Christian Atsu and victims of the earthquake in Turkey and Syria," a Twitter post said.

    "We continue with our efforts to establish contact with officials of Hatayspor and the Turkish Football Federation, considering the difficult situation.

    "Our thoughts and prayers are with Christian Atsu and our brothers and sisters in Turkey and Syria. We remain hopeful for positive news."

    Newcastle United, who Atsu represented for five years, playing 121 times, posted: "Praying for some positive news, @ChristianAtsu20."

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    The Brazil international has not featured in PSG's past two games – league wins over Montpellier and Toulouse – due to suffering from muscular fatigue.

    However, Neymar is now in contention to return for Wednesday's Classique against Marseille at Stade Velodrome in the last 16 of the Coupe de France.

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    PSG posted an image of Neymar in training on Monday, while fellow recent injury absentee Sergio Ramos was also present.

    Kylian Mbappe is expected to miss at least the first leg of that showdown with Bayern, however, with the prolific forward still nursing a thigh injury.

    Prior to his short lay-off, Neymar – who celebrated his 31st birthday on Sunday – had scored 17 goals and assisted 14 more in 25 appearances this season.

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