Captain's performance from Jordan Henderson leads Liverpool to another dramatic victory in title race

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Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson.

Liverpool got another dramatic win to return to the top of the Premier League table on Friday as late goals from Mohamed Salah – his first in nearly two months – and Jordan Henderson led Jurgen Klopp’s side to a 3-1 victory over Southampton.

The Reds looked in danger of dropping points at a crucial juncture in the title race when they fell behind early in the game, only for Naby Keita’s equaliser to steady the ship. From there, though it was a difficult game, Liverpool took control and got the much-needed win.

Here’s a look at how the players rated.

STARTING XI

Alisson 6 – Could do little for Southampton’s goal and had little to do afterwards. When called upon his handling and reading of the game was assured.

Trent Alexander-Arnold 7 – The outcry over the refereeing for Liverpool’s opener will persist, but once the ball was allowed to get to Trent Alexander-Arnold, the right-back did what he does best: it was a perfect cross for the Reds’ equaliser.

Joel Matip 6 – Questions will be asked over his defending for Southampton’s opener – though that’s true of his centre-back partner as well – and endured a nervy first half. But resorted to current form after the break.

Virgil van Dijk 6 – Had a surprisingly shaky first half on his return to St. Mary’s – perhaps the boos from his former home fans were getting to him. But he rose to the occasion to organise Liverpool’s defence after the break.  

Andrew Robertson 5 – A poor game from the Liverpool left-back’s standards. Mishit his crosses on a few occasions when his typical delivery would have created gilt-edged chances.

Georginio Wijnaldum 5 – A little below his usual level of this season, especially early in the game when Liverpool were being overrun in midfield. It wasn’t a surprise when he was taken off when the Reds were searching for a winner.

Fabinho 5 – 17 misplaced passes from Liverpool’s midfield maestro, an unexpectedly below-par display from the man Liverpool trust to keep them in control in midfield.

Naby Keita 7 – This could be the breakthrough game Keita was waiting for. It was a well-taken header for Liverpool’s equaliser, his first goal for the club. Hopefully from here he kicks on and finds consistency.

Mohamed Salah 7 – It was looking like being another frustrating night from Liverpool’s talisman. His part in the opener will not be forgotten – he should have been called offside – but when it mattered, Salah stood up. A superbly-taken goal to give his side three precious points.

Roberto Firmino 7 – His movement, as usual, made him a thorn in the side of Southampton’s defence throughout. Firmino deserves some credit for Salah’s goal for the way his run opened up space for his team-mate.

Sadio Mane 6 – For so long he’s been bailing Liverpool out while Salah struggled. On Friday it was the other way around, as Mane huffed and puffed without having much impact against his former side. But Salah repaid the favour from the last few months.

SUBSTITUTIONS

James Milner 6 – The drop-off in set-piece delivery between Alexander-Arnold’s and Milner’s after the veteran replaced the youngster was alarming, but he made up for it by adding solidity in defence.

Jordan Henderson 8 – Substitutions don’t get much better than this. Come on with the scores level, end the game with a goal and an assist in a win. A real captain’s performance.

Dejan Lovren N/A – Came on in the aftermath of Liverpool’s third goal and had little to do in the time remaining.

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Sarri backs Higuain to succeed if Chelsea can bring him back next season

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Maurizio Sarri has backed Gonzalo Higuain to succeed at Chelsea if the Argentina striker secures a second season in the Premier League.

Chelsea boss Sarri insisted he wants to keep the on-loan Juventus striker at Stamford Bridge next term, despite the Blues remaining subject to a FIFA transfer ban.

The Stamford Bridge club has launched an appeal against the two-window transfer embargo, but Sarri claimed he could cope even if he is unable to make any summer signings.

Higuain has scored just three goals in 11 games for Chelsea, with the club needing to pay 36million euros (£31m) to bring him in permanently from Juventus.

Asked if he wants to keep Higuain, Sarri said: “Yes of course, but it depends on the club, it depends on Juventus. It’s not clear the situation at the moment.

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“So it’s not easy for a striker to play immediately well in the Premier League. I think he has time for improvement.”

Chelsea were hit with the two-window transfer ban by FIFA last month, over breaching rules concerning overseas players under the age of 18.

The Blues’ appeal will be heard on April 11, but Sarri remains phlegmatic about the possible hindrance that embargo would cause.

Asked if it is tough to prepare for next season in the shadow of the transfer ban, Sarri said: “No, because I am really very confident in my players.

“We have a lot of young players, very good, they are improving. And so if they are able to improve we will be probably a better team in the future.

“So I am not worried about the market, but I am confident in my players.”

Provided by Press Association Sport 

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Maurizio Sarri has hailed Ruben Loftus-Cheek for blossoming into a “complete” midfielder under his stewardship at Chelsea this term.

Chelsea boss Sarri believes Loftus-Cheek has rounded out the defensive element of his game, so is now ready to feature regularly for the Blues.

But Sarri also conceded Loftus-Cheek’s long-standing back problem continues to hinder his progress.

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