Ahead of Wednesday's Capital One Cup quarter-final between Southampton and Liverpool, saintsfc.co.uk got the lowdown on the Reds from Liverpool Echo reporter James Pearce.
Have Liverpool changed much under Jürgen Klopp since the teams drew 1-1 at Anfield a few weeks ago?
Probably the standout result since then was Liverpool going to Man City and winning in the style and the manner they did, 4-1. I think that felt like a massive leap forward. When Southampton came to Anfield it was still very early days under Klopp and he was still getting to know the players and they were still getting to know him. Then they went to Chelsea and won, then went to City and absolutely blew them away. I think they have made a significant amount of progress since then and the injury situation has improved as well. Defensively, they’re still a little bit thin on numbers, with Mamadou Sakho being out, but going forward, for the first time since he’s been at the club, he has got some real options.
What have been the biggest differences under Klopp?
His appointment completely galvanised the fanbase. He’s got this infectious personality and enthusiasm for the game, which I think rubs off on people. The fans love him and I think the players have really bought into what they’ve been asked to do. They’re certainly running a lot more in games with the pressing game he’s insisted upon and I think they’re enjoying it as well. Obviously, results breed confidence, and three straight wins and six of the last seven means there is a buzz around the club at the moment.
How would you describe Liverpool’s style of play at the moment?
They’ve played a lot better away from home under Klopp so far. I think that is because the way they press and then try to hit teams on the counter attack when they win back possession does suit when you’re playing against a home team that come out and try to play themselves. It’s certainly a high-intensity game, where it’s all about shutting down space and putting teams under pressure and trying to force them to cough up possession. Where Liverpool have struggled under him is where teams have come and sat deep and just tried to purely contain them.
How is the Capital One Cup being viewed at Liverpool?
One of the things that supporters have loved about Klopp since he’s come in is he’s treated every single game very seriously. In the last round, against Bournemouth, he did make some changes and played some young players, but that was extreme circumstances with the schedule Liverpool had around that time and the sheer number of injuries. I think you’ll see a very strong Liverpool team against Southampton. Klopp knows this is a fantastic chance for Liverpool to win a competition and there’s no better way to build momentum than to get a first trophy. He certainly won’t be resting anyone come Wednesday night.
Who are Liverpool’s key men right now?
Philippe Coutinho is the big one. Liverpool expect him to be back fit for Wednesday and he’s just an amazing talent who has that ability to unlock defences. He’s started to develop a bit of an end product to his own game as well and has got five goals to his name already this season. The other interesting one will be Dejan Lovren. I know he’ll get a hot reception from the Southampton fans. It’ll be interesting to see how he handles it. As everyone knows, he’s had a pretty torrid start to his Liverpool career and has never come close to justifying the money Liverpool paid for him, but in recent weeks they lost Sakho and I think a lot of fans were quite worried about the prospect of Lovren filling his boots, but so far he hasn’t put a foot wrong. This will be a big test for him and Liverpool will need a big performance from him if they are going to get through.
How do you see the game going?
I think it will be reasonably tight. I just think with the way Liverpool have been playing away from home I think they will just sneak it, 2-1 or 3-2.