Southampton continued their poor run of form with a three-nil defeat away to Liverpool this afternoon.
Mohamed Salah scored a first half brace with Philippe Coutinho adding a third with twenty minutes to go.
In another abject display, Southampton offered next to nothing all over the park and were comfortably beaten, with manager Mauricio Pellegrino surely under severe pressure as his side looks nervously towards the bottom of the table.
Pellegrino had promised to attack a weak Liverpool back line, but there was no sign of that for most of the afternoon with Liverpool utterly dominant.
The plan was to use the pace of Shane Long and Nathan Redmond to get at Liverpool with the full backs bombing on - yet they were nowhere to be seen save for a couple of runs down the left from Ryan Bertand which failed to lead to anything.
Trent Alexander-Arnold came close to opening the scoring just eight minutes in following a scrappy passage of play. A forward pass ricocheted off of Virgil van Dijk’s toe into the young defender’s path, with Fraser Forster coming off his line and flailing at the ball.
Saints were sat deep in their own half, with Sadio Mane a constant outlet for Liverpool down the left. Philippe Coutinho hit an effort wide of Forster’s goal with Salah wasting a good early chance off of Mane’s cross.
The visitors were well on the back foot though, Wesley Hoedt slicing an early clearance behind for a corner and Bertrand sliding to block Mane from shooting from a tight angle.
Southampton could only hold on for half an hour, before Dusan Tadic gave the ball away on the edge of the box, caught trying to dribble out from danger following a Liverpool corner. The ball came to Salah, who had a perfect angle to work with on the right hand side, and the Egyptian curled a beautiful shot into the far corner of the goal.
Saints tried to come back into the game, with Tadic failing to return Sofiane Boufal’s one-two and Bertrand slipping before he could cross after reaching the byline, but Salah scored his second just ten minutes after his first.
With Saints camped in their own half, wantaway defender van Dijk stepped out of defence to close the ball down, and Salah coasted into the space. Fed by Coutinho, he slotted the ball past Forster with ease and it was no more than the visitors deserved following a woeful first half performance from the visitors.
Southampton didn’t threaten Liverpool’s goal at all in the first half, with their first shot arriving by way of Bertrand’s free kick in the fortieth minute - curling wide of Simon Mignolet’s left post.
The visitors had a brief spell of possession in their opposition’s half early in the second period, Boufal taking a pot shot before attempting to cut in to shoot from the right - with ex-Saint Dejan Lovren comfortable reading the move and making the tackle.
Mane continued to torment Saints’ defence, holding off Cedric Soares brilliantly in the box and earning a corner 50 minutes in. More troubling goalkeeping from Forster nearly let in Roberto Firmino moments later, with the former England stopper slow to come off his line but with Saints surviving this time.
Charlie Austin replaced Tadic before the hour mark, with goal-shy Shane Long moved out to the right wing, and there were promising early signs that the change would produce something with a couple of clever moves nearly coming off on the edge of Liverpool’s area.
Yet, with the game opening up, Liverpool always looked like increasing their lead and did so in the sixty-eighth minute, Coutinho sweeping in the rebound from Forster’s parry off Firmino. Mane had drifted in from the right, feeding in the Brazilian with a cute reverse pass and Firmino’s shot fell kindly to his compatriot who calmly slotted home.
The third goal killed the game off, with Austin heading over James Ward-Prowse’s 71st minute free kick and no Southampton forward able to meet a later headed on cross from the young Englishman.
At the other end, Firmino pulled a late effort wide while Redmond’s dawdling on the ball allowed Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in, whose cross failed to find a team mate in the box.
All in all, Liverpool barely broke a sweat, are unbeaten in 11 at Anfield, and easily won the game against an abysmal Southampton side who contained their opponents so brilliantly last season in the League and EFL Cup.
Make no mistake about it, Saints will be fighting a relegation battle if Pellegrino cannot change things fast. Confidence is low, with players who offer nothing like Tadic and Redmond unfathomably starting games no matter how poor their performances.
Under Claude Puel, Southampton were boring but more often than not defensively sound and picked up points here and there. Now, they are utterly toothless up top and a shambles at the back despite not having sold any key players for the first time in three years and with a stronger squad than last year.
Next up is Everton at home - a must win game with a frighteningly difficult few weeks of fixtures ahead.
Liverpool: Mignolet; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno; Henderson (c), Wijnaldum, Coutinho (Can 69); Salah (Milner 79), Mane (Oxlade-Chamberlain 73), Firmino.
Subs: Karius, Sturridge, Gomez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Solanke, Milner, Can.
Saints: Forster; Soares, Hoedt, van Dijk, Bertrand; Davis (c), Romeu; Tadic (Austin 54), Boufal (Ward-Prowse 69), Redmond; Long (Gabbiadini 78).
Subs: McCarthy, Yoshida, Hojbjerg, Ward-Prowse, Targett, Gabbiadini, Austin.