Jurgen Klopp says he is well aware of Southampton’s strengths and weaknesses as he goes in search of his first Liverpool win at the third attempt at Anfield this weekend.
Amid much excitement around his appointment, the former Borussia Dortmund coach has overseen a pair of draws so far – 0-0 at Tottenham in the Premier League and 1-1 on his Anfield bow against 10-man Rubin Kazan in the Europa League.
Liverpool have shown signs of promise under Klopp but, with plenty of room for improvement, they welcome a Southampton side unbeaten in four across all competitions.
Southampton’s last away trip brought maximum points against champions Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and Ronald Koeman’s men could face a Liverpool side without Daniel Sturridge (knee).
Roberto Firmino and Christian Benteke are fit and available after their cameos in midweek following fitness problems.
“We have to look at how the players are after a very intensive game. We’ll see what we can do for Sunday,” Klopp told reporters.
“It’s obvious what their strength is. They are well organised, they try to press high with six players and four stay a little bit deeper. You have to play football if you can, you have to play long balls, you have to fight for second balls – that’s what they do.
“They want to play if you let them. If not, they have [Graziano] Pelle. It’s a good thing to give him the ball because he’s very physical and technical, a really good striker.
“They have [Sadio] Mane around him – big speed, a big talent, a really good player. And [Dusan] Tadic on the left wing; I heard he had the most crosses in the Premier League.
“They are in good shape and they have seven points from the last three games. They are a good team and it’s not an easy game. But we are at home and that’s what we want to show.”
Southampton have lost their last three Premier League meetings with Liverpool, scoring just once courtesy of Nathaniel Clyne – who is likely to start against them on Sunday following his switch to Anfield in July.
Steven Davis, Victor Wanyama and Jay Rodriguez are expected to feature for the visitors despite fitness concerns although Shane Long (ankle) remains ruled out.
Of Klopp’s arrival, Koeman commented: “[It got] a lot of attention in the press but it isn’t easy because as a new manager you need time.
“I was surprised how [well] they played the first 30 minutes against Tottenham – it was like a different Liverpool. High pressing, yesterday [against Rubin] was different but that’s normal.
“You need time to put everything you want as a new manager in place but there’s a lot of speculation as it’s Liverpool, one of the biggest teams in the Premier League.
“New managers bring new details for the team and the system will be changed, maybe some players get opportunities, but it’s not so easy that you see in one or two weeks a big difference.”
Key Opta Stats:
– Liverpool ran 116km in their first game under Jurgen Klopp last weekend – further than in any Premier League game since the start of 2013-14.
– James Milner has run further than any other Liverpool player in every one of their opening nine games in the Premier League this season and has created 20 goalscoring chances for the Reds; more than any other player for the club.
– Southampton’s 3-1 win at Chelsea was their first Premier League away win since February 7th, ending a 10-game winless streak on the road.
– Graziano Pelle (5) has scored or assisted as many goals in his last four Premier League appearances as he did in his previous 11 in the competition.
– Just three of Pelle’s 17 Premier League goals have come away from home (18 per cent).