Jurgen Klopp has had far from an ideal week but his Liverpool side ruthlessly dispatched Southampton at Anfield to end it on a high note.
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Klopp was sent to hospital earlier this week when he felt unwell but the German coach was given a big boost as Mohamed Salah scored twice in the first half, which included a stunning opener, and Philippe Coutinho finished Saints off in the second half as the Reds eased to victory and stayed in touch with the chasing pack behind runaway leaders Manchester City.
Speaking to the BBC after the game, Klopp was happy with what he saw from his side after he was fit enough to be on the bench on Saturday.
“Difficult game, Southampton are a really good football side. It was an open game, we had more chances before we scored. We need to be patient in a lively way,” Klopp said. “The first goal, wow, I have nothing to do with the goal and the second was a fantastic pass and Mo Salah makes great runs. We could have scored more often but it was a perfect day for us.”
Klopp, 50, sees his side just three points off second place after 12 games of the Premier League season, while his side remain firm favorites to qualify for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
So far, so good.
Yes, Man City will take some catching (and a collapse of their own) but Liverpool’s aim should be to secure a second-straight top four finish and go from there.
With Sadio Mane, Salah, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the form they showed on Saturday, plus a fifth clean sheet in six PL games this season at Anfield, the defensive woes Klopp’s team have faced away from home this season aren’t troubling them at home.
Next up is Chelsea at home for Liverpool, which will be a supreme test of their newfound defensive solidity at home. Their results against title contenders this season have been up and down with a draw against Manchester United, hammerings at Tottenham and Man City and a thrashing of Arsenal at home.
Liverpool’s clash against top four rivals Chelsea is followed by five winnable games before they travel to Arsenal on Dec. 22.
Between now and then we will see if Liverpool’s season will amount to more than just a top four challenge. Saturday’s shellacking of a lackluster Southampton may have been “perfect” but a much tougher test awaits next week against a rejuvenated Chelsea side who have Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard purring in attack
Can Liverpool’s oft-fragile defense cope? We are about to find out.