Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool will have to be at their very best if they are to pick up three points from Sunday’s Premier League trip to Southampton.
The Merseysiders recorded an emphatic 6-1 victory when they visited St Mary’s Stadium in the League Cup this season and have won on both of their last two visits in the top flight.
Klopp’s side are in buoyant mood, having followed back-to-back league wins over Manchester City and Crystal Palace with a 3-1 aggregate triumph over fierce rivals Manchester United in the Europa League.
But with Southampton having lost just one of their last six league games at home in their own resurgent run of recent form, Klopp is aware that a repeat of Liverpool’s League Cup performance could be required to take a win that will keep their hopes of a top-four finish alive.
“It was the perfect result for us, perfect night,” he said of that game in December, in which Divock Origi scored a hat-trick.
“Southampton is a really good side. We know about this so we have to be at 100 per cent to get something there and if we want a win there then we have to be really, really good.”
Ronald Koeman’s side picked up a 2-1 win away to Stoke City last week to keep their own European ambitions alive with just eight matches left to play and have had a full week to recover prior to Liverpool’s visit.
With Victor Wanyama and Jose Fonte returning from suspension and Sadio Mane cleared to play after his red card at Stoke was rescinded, there is plenty of optimism surrounding the Saints as they aim to keep pace with the top six.
Koeman, however, says they will struggle for a result unless they prove they have learned from that humbling League Cup loss, telling the media on Friday: “They have a really strong team, they had two good results against Man United.
“It was a must-win game against Stoke and it’s the same this weekend.
“You have to learn from the mistakes. They showed us to be stronger and more clinical that night. We gave them the space to punish us and that’s what we have to learn – be more compact, more aggressive.”
Charlie Austin (hamstring) is still out for Southampton and Jay Rodriguez is not fit enough to return to the first team, while Alberto Moreno (hamstring) could miss out for Liverpool and James Milner is suspended, meaning Jon Flanagan could celebrate his new contract at Anfield with a start.
Key Opta Stats:
– Liverpool have won four of their last six Premier League matches, averaging three goals per game in that run.
– Southampton haven’t lost three successive Premier League games at home to Liverpool since December 1996.
– Liverpool have scored 13 goals in their last four Premier League away games.
– If Fraser Forster keeps a clean sheet in this match, he’ll be the fourth quickest goalkeeper to reach 20 clean sheets in the Premier League (currently 19 clean sheets in 40 games) after Petr Cech (26), Jose Reina (32) and Roy Carroll (37).
– Graziano Pelle’s brace against Stoke ended a run of 12 league appearances without scoring – only once in his time at Southampton has he scored in successive Premier League games, back in September 2014.