Jurgen Klopp described Southampton as a “pressing machine,” ahead of Liverpool’s last Premier League game before the winter break on Saturday.
The Reds’ senior squad will embark on a week’s holiday after the visit of Southampton, with Klopp handing Neil Critchley and the under-23s duties in the FA Cup on Tuesday night.
Liverpool’s focus is predominantly on the title at this stage, and having gone 19 points clear with a 2-0 win at West Ham in midweek they could extend that to 22 before Man City‘s trip to Tottenham on Sunday.
But Klopp is aware of the challenge the Saints will pose, revealing he and his backroom staff reacted with a “wow” as they underwent analysis ahead of the game.
“Southampton now looks like a pressing machine. Jumping at everything, pressing at the highest level, but playing football as well,” he told reporters on Friday.
Klopp added that feels Ralph Hasenhuttl deserved last month’s Manager of the Month award, not him, and called upon Anfield to make the difference against an in-form opponent.
“We need each and every person in the stadium to help us,” he said. “We need an outstanding atmosphere, please. That would be really nice!”
The manager faced a series of questions on ex-Reds striker Danny Ings, who has already scored 16 goals for Southampton this season, and described him as “still our boy kind of.”
“Everybody here in this building is so happy about the situation of Danny,” he said.
“Even if he’s not any more, he’s still our boy kind of, and we all follow each step in his career, celebrating goals he’s scored—that will be different tomorrow, obviously!”
He was also asked about the potential for any surprises on deadline day, but stressed that Liverpool plan for the long term, and that “it would have to be the 100 percent right player” to improve his squad.
His selection is already improving with the return of a host of players through injury and illness, with Adam Lallana the latest back, though Klopp ruled out both James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri for Saturday.
Both will be available after the winter break, however, by which point Liverpool will hopefully be more than seven wins clear of City at the top.