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Sarri believes Chelsea still far from competing with Liverpool

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Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri checked the Blues fixture list, saw Liverpool twice in one week, and groaned. Probably.

After Chelsea drew 0-0 with London rivals West Ham on Sunday, Sarri looked ahead and told reporters that Liverpool has the continuity he craves.

“They are a step forward of us at this moment,” said Sarri when asked about Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. “We have to play against a very, very good team who have worked with the same coach for three years. We have started to work together 40 days ago, less 10 days for the international break, so for us it is a bit early. We have to work and then, maybe, in one year we will be at the same level as Liverpool.”

Klopp was hired as Liverpool manager on October 8, 2015 and has slowly built the Reds squad into not just a Premier League title contender, but a formidable Champions League power as well, reaching the tournament final last campaign. Sarri believes the Liverpool attack is one of the most dangerous they’ll face, and while it might be entertaining for fans, it will stress him out.

“It will be a really difficult match,” Sarri said. “Maybe spectacular but for us, difficult. I don’t think there is an easy game against Salah, Firmino and Mane.”

Chelsea first faces Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday at Anfield, and Sarri says he could make “five or eleven changes” with one less day to rest. Then, the clubs meet in the Premier League on Saturday at Stamford Bridge at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Liverpool issue injury update on Virgil van Dijk

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Life is pretty good at Anfield right now.

Liverpool made it six wins from six to open up the Premier League campaign — they have seven wins on the spin in all competitions to set a new club record for wins at the start of a season — as Jurgen Klopp‘s side eased past Southampton thanks to three first half goals.

[ MORE: Wolves draw at Man United ]

Yet the one negative was the fact that former Saints star Virgil Van Dijk came off in the second half with a rib injury.

With a pivotal stretch of games coming up in the League Cup, PL and UEFA Champions League, it seemed like Liverpool didn’t want to risk any further damage to their star center back.

Speaking about VVD’s injury after the game, Klopp told BBC 5 Live that Van Dijk “has a bruise on his rib, he’s uncomfortable but I don’t think it’s much more.” And Klopp also told Sky Sports that the center back had an injury in the same spot last week and that it isn’t anything too serious.

It will be intriguing to see if Virgil van Dijk is risked for the League Cup third round game against Chelsea at Anfield on Wednesday, especially with Joe Gomez and Joel Matip around and Dejan Lovren recently returning to training.

VVD has been influential in turning Liverpool’s defense into a stingy unit in recent months, with the Reds keeping eight-straight clean sheets at home in the Premier League. They last conceded at home in the PL to West Ham in February. Van Dijk arrived in January for $100 million, a world-record fee for a defender.

That is exactly why Liverpool won’t risk his fitness.

Smart move from Klopp to whip him off on Saturday as Liverpool have bigger fish to fry this season in all four competitions as their perfect start continues.

Liverpool stay perfect, ease past Southampton

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  • Liverpool win first 7 games of season for first time
  • Southampton are winless in 25 PL games vs. “top six”
  • Hoedt own goal, Matip header, Salah tap-in does damage

Liverpool eased by Southampton 3-0 at Anfield on Saturday, with Jurgen Klopp‘s side top of the Premier League after six wins from six to open the new season.

Wesley Hoedt‘s early own goal set them on their way, then Joel Matip’s header and Mohamed Salah‘s tap-in extended their lead.

Liverpool have now won their opening seven games in all competitions and sit top of the Premier League on 18 points, while Saints have five points from their first six games.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Saints started brightly as a move down the left saw Matt Targett cross but Liverpool cleared just before Long could get on the end of it.

But Liverpool took the lead in comical circumstances. Xherdan Shaqiri‘s cross deflected off Shane Long and then Hoedt before it trickled over the line.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Cedric Soares then denied Salah with a wonderful last-ditch tackle but from the resulting corner Matip nodded home to put Liverpool 2-0 up.

At the other end Trent Alexander-Arnold cleared just when it looked like Matt Targett would tap home at the back post, then Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg mishit a volley after a fine break from Saints down the left.

Salah was then set free by Roberto Firmino on the break and his audacious back heel squirmed inches wide of the far post, but right on the break Salah did score. Shaqiri’s free kick smashed the crossbar and Salah was on hand to tap home and make it 3-0.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Shaqiri was replaced by James Milner at half time as Liverpool were content with their 3-0 lead. Occasionally the Reds looked dangerous on the break but Southampton had most of the ball.

That said, Mark Hughes‘ side didn’t do much with it.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Late on Sadio Mane raced in on goal but couldn’t get his touch right but the game was done and dusted after a clinical first half display.

PL AT HALF: Stars shining across six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs

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We’ve seen goals, goals, goals across five of six Premier League matches which kicked off at 10 a.m. ET on Saturday.

[ MORE: Fulham draw Watford ]

There’s a lone nil-nil in the bunch, and that one’s offered promise of finish as well.

Manchester United 1-0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

A sensational first touch pass from Paul Pogba (see above) and a low drive from Fred have the Red Devils leading at Old Trafford.

Leicester City 1-1 Huddersfield Town

The struggling Terriers took a surprising early lead, but Kelechi Iheanacho had the score line before the break.

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton

The Saints were unable to use Liverpool loanee Danny Ings, and the attack is struggling to do anything while the Reds have goals from a Xherdan Shaqiri-prodded own goal for Wesley Hoedt and a follow-up marker from center back Joel Matip.

Mohamed Salah scored in stoppage time after a Liverpool free kick rang off the cross bar and bounced on the goal line for the Egyptian to deposit in the goal.

Cardiff City 0-3 Manchester City

Moments after Cardiff nearly found a shocking way into the champions’ goal, it was Sergio Aguero who restored order for Manchester City. Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan added goals before halftime.

Crystal Palace 0-0 Newcastle United

Chances for both sides at Selhurst Park, though the Eagles are holding control of it.

Burnley 2-0 Bournemouth

Matej Vydra and Aaron Lennon score two minutes apart to give Turf Moor a delightful halftime break.

PL Preview: Liverpool vs. Southampton

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  • Southampton has not scored a PL goal vs. Liverpool since 2016, a run of 4 games
  • Liverpool has never won its first 7 matches in a season in club history
  • Southampton has not won vs. any of last season’s PL top 6 teams in 24 games

Liverpool finally showed a weakness. Liverpool was finally human.

Until they weren’t.

When the Reds toppled Paris Saint-Germain in the 91st minute on Tuesday, it struck fear into the hearts of the rest of Europe. Can anyone actually stop this whirring machine? Sure, you might score some goals against Liverpool, but can you score enough?

[ WATCH LIVE: Liverpool vs. Southampton on NBCSports.com ]

Southampton visits Anfield hoping to avoid becoming Liverpool’s next victim Saturday morning at 10:00 a.m. ET live on NBCSN or live online at NBCSports.com. The Saints have been a mixed bag so far this season, but coughing up a 2-0 lead at home to Brighton last weekend was a less than ideal way to send the team off to Anfield. Not only that, but they’ll have to match the Reds without top scorer Danny Ings, who is ineligible to play against his parent club.

That thrusts strike partner Shane Long into a solo role, or forces Mark Hughes to bring on the misfiring Manolo Gabbiadini to pair with Long, although the Italian is struggling with a hamstring injury himself and will require a late fitness test to make the squad. Either way, it appears a daunting task for the visitors to Merseyside.

For the Reds, Roberto Firmino is fully healthy, having recovered completely from his eye injury suffered last weekend against Tottenham. Adam LallanaDivock Origi, and Dominic Solanke are all out injured but otherwise the squad is nearly complete. Only Dejan Lovren remains on the sidelines, but even the Croatian is nearing a return from his pelvic injury.

What they’re saying

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on playing at home: “Are we ready to create the best atmosphere of all games? That would be cool. We need to show Southampton how difficult it is to come to Anfield.”

Southampton manager Mark Hughes on playing Liverpool: “It’s a game that is going to test us because the team we are facing looks on top of their form in terms of individuals and the collective functioning really well.”

Prediction

Southampton has looked promising this season in spurts, but this isn’t the game where they put it all together. Liverpool is a nearly unstoppable force at home, and there’s no reason that should change. The only concerning bit of information for Liverpool heading into this match is last season’s record following Champions League games, when they won just once while losing once and drawing four, but this year has proven Liverpool has a new gear. The Reds will win 3-1, with things shaky for some time down the stretch until a late insurance goal puts the game away.