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Diogo Jota is the most understated of Liverpool’s fab four strikers; a player who would shine brighter but for the geniuses either side of him. Call him the George Harrison of Anfield, if you like.
Even when eclipsing his illustrious partners Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané with a double in the 4-0 win over Southampton, the Portuguese forward does not receive equal acclaim. Roberto Firmino – even when he is still absent with a hamstring injury – is celebrated more than the man excelling in his place, although appreciation for Jota’s skills is obvious with each intake of breath when he turns a hapless marker.
The standing ovation he received, after the Kop sang his name here for the first time, upon being substituted 10 minutes from time was the most audible commendation, Jota having scored twice in the first 32 minutes.
When Salah and Mané leave for Africa Cup of Nations duty, Jota has the capacity to ease the pain of their considerable loss. Liverpool have now scored 39 goals in their 13 league games this season – their most yet at this stage.
Jota’s triumph since joining Liverpool 16 months ago is the seamlessness with which he has adorned one of the most feared front lines to grace Anfield.
There was a time under Jürgen Klopp when Firmino’s absence would have crippled his game plan, bereft of the multi-tasking No 9 who can terrorise deep-playing midfielders as much as defenders. Jota’s eye for goals gives him a slightly different profile. Ask many of those tasked with stopping him, and they may testify he is as much a menace as the rest of Liverpool’s red arrows.
“Exceptional player. Exceptional boy. Perfect signing,” Klopp said. “He has everything that a Liverpool player needs. He has technical skills, he has physical skills and he is very smart and can learn all the tactical stuff pretty quick. On top of that, he can play all three positions up front, and in a 4-2-3-1 as a No 10.
“He has the speed and desire to finish situations off and is really good. His goal-scoring record is pretty impressive. Unfortunately he had a big injury last year and that is never helpful. But he is back, thank God, and fits really well in this team.
“You need more than the three strikers, even when you play with three. Diogo was smart enough to see that and that’s why he made the move and can contribute so well.”
Southampton were miserably ill-equipped to prevent Jota and Liverpool reducing the deficit to Premier League leaders Chelsea to a point, with Klopp’s side exposing a vast difference in class between the title-chasers and the stragglers in the bottom half of the table.
Such was the level of control after Virgil van Dijk volleyed the fourth shortly into the second half, Liverpool effectively hit the brake pedal to offer the visual representation of a declaration. With more intent, they might have inflicted another of those nine-goal defeats on Ralph Hasenhüttl.
That the second-half barrage never materialised was the Austrian’s sole comfort. He accepted some responsibility, admitting he made a mistake picking three centre-backs.
In truth, it was a procession by the 37th minute, by which time Liverpool were three up and Hasenhüttl was ripping up his initial formation, making two half-time substitutions. “I sent them out in the first half with not a good plan on the pitch,” he said.
That was obvious early on, when a long ball through the centre of their defence seemed to bewilder Mohammed Salisu and Brazilian Lyanco. Jota could have dashed through for his first then. He would not have to wait long. Seconds later, the recalled Andrew Robertson was served by Mané, and the cross would have been tapped in by Salah had Jota not beaten him to it.
It rapidly became a terrifying sight for Hasenhüttl, his defenders mesmerised every time Liverpool scampered forward. After a brief first-half lull when the home players indulged in one back-flick too many, they erased any doubt of victory before half-time.
Jota’s second after 32 minutes was also from close range, a fine move including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson allowing Salah to cross to the six yard box where Jota was alone. The Portuguese forward squandered a couple of chances to claim a hat-trick before the interval. There were not too many Liverpool players who did not have an opportunity to score, so impressive were their attacking bursts.
Thiago, who struck a thunderbolt in midweek, followed that with his second in a week in the 37th minute, although this time the beauty was in its set-up more than execution. The maestro rolled the ball under his studs to evade a marker on the edge of the penalty area and his shot was deflected into the top corner.
By the final stages – and not for the first time this week – Klopp had the luxury of resting players for the next game in the knowledge the current one was long won.
This proved all too easy for Liverpool and worrying indeed for Southampton. It was a year ago that Hasenhüttl shed tears after seeing his team beat Liverpool. He could have been forgiven for gently weeping when his side fell so far behind here.
The visitors found some mitigating circumstances in the calibre of their opponents, and Hasenhüttl could also point to a couple of occasions Alisson was forced into action in both halves.
“It is hard to defend against a team on fire,” Hasenhüttlsaid. “We can definitely play better than in the first half, that is for sure. They didn’t make the mistake they made against Brighton when they stopped, leading 2-0.”
After their recent wobble at West Ham, Liverpool remain close in Chelsea’s rear-view mirror.
The Merseyside derby beckons with Liverpool in their best form since their last trip to Goodison Park – the fateful game in which injuries derailed their season.
That's all folks
As always thanks for joining over live coverage. Liverpool look good don't they?
FULL TIME Crystal Palace 1 Aston Villa 2
Aston Villa move up to 11th in the table thanks to goals from Matt Targett and John McGinn
FULL TIME Norwich 0 Wolves 0
Norwich push hard for a third straight win, but Wolves stand firm and the points are shared at Carrow Road.
90+5 mins: Crystal Palace 1 Aston Villa 2 GOAL Guehi
Guehi pokes home from close range for the hosts. Can Palace grab a late equaliser?
What a player
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 27, 2021
FULL TIME Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
All over at Anfield and it's another convincing win and clean sheet for Liverpool. Jota, Thiago and Van Dijk on the scoresheet for the hosts.
90 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Two minutes of stoppage at Anfield.
87 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Third change for Southampton. Walker-Peters on, Perraud off.
86 mins: Crystal Palace 0 Aston Villa 2 GOAL McGinn
John McGinn doubles Villa's lead, curling in from the edge of the box. Gerrard gets one over Vieira.
83 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
No real let up in Liverpool's intensity. Still in full control and continuing to threaten. Full commitment and effort from the players.
80 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Standing ovation at Anfield as Jota is replaced by Minamino in Liverpool's third and final change.
He's been excellent today.
78 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Jota finds Oxlade-Chamberlain in space on the edge of the area. He makes good contact with the shot but McCarthy punches the ball away.
76 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Salah nearly gets his goal. He combines with Fabinho, gets the ball back and curls a shot to the far post but Salisu blocks with his head.
73 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
So close to a hat-trick for Jota. Liverpool create an overlap on the left, allowing Robertson to send in an inviting cross which bounces just in front of Jota and he can only flick the ball wide of the goal.
Premier League latest
Crystal Palace 0-1 Aston Villa
Liverpool 4-0 Southampton
Norwich 0-0 Wolves
70 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
It's been a chastening afternoon for Southampton but the second half has been more respectable after the disaster of the first.
66 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Second change for Liverpool as Henderson is replaced by Milner.
62 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
40 - Trent Alexander-Arnold's assist for Virgil van Dijk was his 40th in the Premier League - only Wayne Rooney (22y 200d) and Cesc Fàbregas (21y 188d) have reached 40 Premier League assists at a younger age (23y 51d). Naughty. #LIVSOU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 27, 2021
59 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
First change for Liverpool sees Thiago makes way for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
56 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0
Liverpool have scored four goals today and Salah isn't one of them yet. He won't want to leave the field till he gets on the scoresheet.
52 mins: Liverpool 4 Southampton 0 GOAL Van Dijk
Woeful defending by Southampton from a corner. Alexander Arnold's cross drops into the path of van Dijk near the penalty spot, who shrugs off Romeu and fires a low drive past McCarthy.
49 mins: Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Thiago clips a lovely pass into the path of Salah, whose interchange with Henderson ends up with the Liverpool skipper's low cross into the box being cut out by Lyanco.
SECOND HALF Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
A double substitution made at the interval by the away side. Bednarek and Adams off, Redmond and Tella on.
Premier League half-times
Crystal Palace 0-1 Aston Villa
Liverpool 3-0 Southampton
Norwich 0-0 Wolves
HALF TIME Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Liverpool in complete control as the sides enter the dressing rooms. A double from Diogo Jota and a Thiago strike has them in front at Anfield.
45 mins: Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Two minutes of stoppage time.
44 mins: Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Big save by Alisson. Broja pulls the ball back to Armstrong and his low shot is going towards the bottom corner but the Brazilian keeper dives to his right to make the save.
40 mins: Liverpool 3 Southampton 0
Liverpool are carving Southampton open at will at the moment. Hasenhüttl has to do something for the second half.
37 mins: Liverpool 3 Southampton 0 GOAL Thiago
Liverpool are running riot. A few days after his great strike against Porto, Thiago is on the scoresheet again. This time his left-footed shot is deflected past McCarthy.
32 mins: Liverpool 2 Southampton 0 GOAL Jota
Too easy for Liverpool. A one-two between Salah and Henderson. The former then keeps his composure to slide the ball across goal for Jota to side-foot in.
29 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Chance for Henderson as he races onto a cut back by Salah but he blazes his shot over the bar.
27 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Broja is clearly offside but the linesman doesn't raise his flag. So he races away but shoots wide.
The linesman belatedly puts his flag up for offside. Not a good finish by the attacker though.
23 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
A loose throw in by Trent Alexander Arnold allows Broja to race onto the ball. He enters the area, gets some space and shoots on target but Alisson produces a great save from close range.
22 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
01:37 - Diogo Jota's goal after just 97 seconds against Southampton is Liverpool's earliest in the Premier League since April 2019 (15 seconds vs Huddersfield). Blocks. #LIVSOU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 27, 2021
20 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Lovely pass and move involving Mane, Jota and Henderson. But just as they approach the Southampton box, Mane overhits his pass to Robertson.
17 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Salah uses his strength to shrug off the attentions of Salisu, then goes for a curler which arches just wide of McCarthy's goal.
So nearly another wonderful goal by the Egyptian.
15 mins: Crystal Palace 0 Aston Villa 1 GOAL Targett
Matt Targett puts the visitors ahead, powering home from a corner.
12 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
From the resulting free kick, Robertson curls a lovely ball into the box and Mane heads in but the offside flag goes up.
11 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Yellow card for Bednarek after catching Mane late. He's a touch lucky to get away without a big punishment.
Not a good tackle.
10 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
Henderson is down and holding his head after being clattered into by Salisu. He's OK to continue though.
7 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
After conceding that early goal Southampton have settled into the match and are trying to press Liverpool high up the pitch.
3 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0
It only took 97 seconds for the hosts to open the scoring - it could be a long afternoon for Southampton.
2 mins: Liverpool 1 Southampton 0 GOAL Jota
Jota opens the scoring after just two minutes - the perfect start.
1 min: Liverpool 0-0 Southampton
Under way at Anfield!
It says a lot about a team...
...that they can make six changes to a Champions League side victorious against Porto and welcome back Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota. This is Liverpool's strongest XI and Southampton, fresh off the back of their defeat to Norwich, will have their work cut out today. But, as both Brighton and West Ham will attest, Klopp's side is not infallible and the visitors will be hoping that Liverpool have one of their rare 'off days' this afternoon.
Henderson shows his support for the Rainbow Laces campaign
All change please
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reverts to his strongest line-up for the visit of Southampton with six changes from the Champions League win over Porto.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Diogo Jota all return.
Centre-back Ibrahima Konate keeps his place at the expense of Joel Matip.
Southampton make three changes from last weekend's defeat at Norwich with Lyanco, Armando Broja and Romain Perraud all coming in.
Norwich v Wolverhampton teams
Norwich: Krul, Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams, Gilmour, Normann, McLean, Rashica, Pukki, Sargent. Subs: Rupp, Dowell, Cantwell, Tzolis, Lees-Melou, Gunn, Giannoulis, Idah, Omobamidele.
Wolverhampton: Jose Sa, Kilman, Coady, Saiss, Nelson Semedo, Neves, Joao Moutinho, Ait Nouri, Trincao, Jimenez, Hwang. Subs: Hoever, Marcal, Moulden, Silva, Ruddy, Dendoncker, Traore, Cundle.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire)
Crystal Palace v Aston Villa teams
Crystal Palace: Guaita, Ward, Tomkins, Guehi, Mitchell, Gallagher, Milivojevic, Kouyate, Olise, Benteke, Zaha. Subs: Butland, Ayew, Eze, Hughes, Schlupp, Clyne, Edouard, Kelly, Riedewald.
Aston Villa: Martinez, Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett, McGinn, Nakamba, Bailey, Jacob Ramsey, Young, Watkins. Subs: Douglas Luiz, Sanson, Buendia, Steer, Tuanzebe, Ings, El Ghazi, Hause, Carney Chukwuemeka.
Referee: Michael Salisbury (Lancashire)
Southampton starting XI
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) November 27, 2021
Liverpool starting XI
🔴 #LIVSOU TEAM NEWS 🔴
Our line-up for today’s meeting with the Saints!
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) November 27, 2021
Team news from the 3pm kick offs coming imminently
We'll have the latest updates from the around the grounds flying in very soon
Arsenal vs Newcastle
In the 12.30pm kick off, there has finally been a breakthrough with Saka giving the hosts the lead after Arsenal strung a series of sublime passes together in and around the box before the Englishman applied the killer touch.
You can follow our live blog here.
Hello and welcome to coverage of the Premier League's 3pm kick offs with special attention on Liverpool's clash with Southampton.
Jurgen Klopp's men can close the gap to leaders Chelsea to one point with victory while the visitors can climb into the top ten if they claim all three points.
Liverpool come into the match full of confidence after beating Arsenal last weekend and Porto on Wednesday. Defender Andy Robertson will be hoping to regain his place in the starting XI after injury sustained on international duty with Scotland. In his absence, Kostas Tsimikas has stepped in and impressed at left-back but Klopp insists Robertson remains first choice.
"It is pushing but I don't see it as pushing in that sense," he said on the left-back competition. "Robbo is Robbo and it is just a bit strange people constantly forget how good Robbo is just because in these moments Kostas is good as well.
"Thank God he is good or we would have a problem. Before we had no real solution and Milly (midfielder James Milner) had to play there and did really well but now we have a different solution, that's good. We have Kostas and Owen Beck coming up, a real prospect, so that's good for us but I don't doubt Robbo at all.
"Really happy about the development of Kostas, really happy, but Robbo is Robbo, an outstanding player. I don't know if he had drops in performance here and there but it doesn't change my mind because you can't trust people today and not trust them the next day.
"You have to show these kind of things as that's how you get the best long-term out of players. But I'm really happy Kostas shows how he showed up, an outstanding player. Robbo needed half-a year (to settle in), Kostas needed a year but now we see how good he is."
Away from Anfield, we'll have goal updates from Crystal Palace vs Aston Villa and Norwich vs Wolves. But first, an update from the early kick off at the Emirates...