A first half flush-out saw the Saints slip to their 3rd defeat of the season as they were outclassed and outplayed by a once again dominant Liverpool, courtesy of a Wesley Hoedt own goal and further efforts from Joel Matip and Mo Salah in the opening 45.
Southampton started far slower than their opponents, allowing a free-flowing Liverpool side a few half chances, but were absorbed somewhat comfortably by a deep lying Jannik Vestergaard-led back four until the ten-minute mark.
Xherdan Shaqiri was a constant threat in and around outside the box in the opening exchanges, and it was his sharp cut from the left onto his right, after being picked put with a slick through ball by former Saint Sadio Mané, that allowed him to shoot on his weaker foot. The ball hit Shane Long then Wesley Hoedt, who helplessly watched as the ball bounced off his thigh into the bottom left corner past Alex McCarthy, who was powerless to prevent it.
The Saints weren’t without their own threat in the opening stages though, as Matt Targett’s low cross from the left nearly found Shane Long at the near post, only for another ex-Saint Virgil van Dijk to get in first and divert it behind.
To little surprise, Liverpool went back on the offensive, and looked all set to net a second as Salah played a superb one-two with Firmino to go clear, but Cédric’s brilliant sliding tackle denied him a certain goal, as he forced the ball just wide of the post.
It mattered little, though, as Liverpool scored from the resulting corner. Trent Alexander-Arnold sent in an out-swinging delivery, and Matip rose unmarked to plant a fine header into the corner.
The Saints could have pulled one back two minutes before half-time, as Ryan Bertrand got free down the left and cut a cross back to Pierre-Emile Højbjerg in space, but he couldn’t make clean contact with his left foot and the chance went begging.
The hosts immediately broke from that opportunity, with Salah getting in behind, who had to spin under a challenge from Vestergaard and ended up sending an audacious back-heel just wide of the far post.
The Egyptian did get his goal with the final action of the first half, though, and it was as simple a finish as he will ever get. Shaqiri took aim from a free-kick 25 yards out and bent a superb effort that beat McCarthy and hit the underside of the crossbar, with Salah following up to poke in from a yard out, as Liverpool took a 3-0 lead in at the break.
Hungover from their Champions League exploits in midweek, the crowd inside Anfield in the second half reflected the play on the pitch – flat and uninspiring to say the least.
While the Saints did take a better grip on the game as the second 45 progressed, chances lacked any sort of cutting edge that could have troubled a regimented Scouse defence, managing just one shot on target.
Van Dijk’s injury dismissal in the 53rd minute would have put hope in the hearts of the travelling fans, but his substitute Joe Gomez was just as comfortable and commanding in nullifying Southampton attacks, as the Reds kept it neat and tidy to see off the job.
Salah’s offside goal was the only real highlight in the 2nd half of a disappointing afternoon for the Saints. Now winless in 2, they will require a bounce back to their best to overturn newly promoted Wolves in 7 days’ time, who themselves recorded an impressive draw against Manchester United, so Mark Hughes will be under the spotlight once more to deliver away from home to avoid near disaster like last season.