Jürgen Klopp spoke to the media about the Reds crucial fixtures in the coming week as the German boss has to focus on a getting a crucial win in the south coast as well as focussing on a Portuguese Champions League outing against the 2004 European champions FC Porto.
The Reds continue their Premier League campaign with a clash at St Mary’s this weekend, three days before the first leg of a last-16 European tie in Portugal.
A win for Klopp's side will see his side return to third after Tottenham beat Arsenal 1-0 earlier at Wembley today. Their focus is wholly on Saints, however, insisted the manager as he fielded questions from the media at his pre-match press conference.
Tough task ahead
When asked about Southampton's current Klopp said: "They had a sticky start. In 2018, the results are absolutely OK or more than OK. A draw with Tottenham at home and stuff like that, so it’s good. It’s a good team, to be honest, really a good team.
"I don’t get 100 per cent why they are in the region they are in the table, but it’s a difficult season for all of us and for Southampton as well.
"You win two games and you can be a little bit more relaxed for a week or so, or you lose two games and you are in the middle of the chaos again. That’s the important thing for us to know.
"They will 100 per cent go for it, not only because of the ‘special relationship’ between Liverpool and Southampton. It will not be a friendly game; we fight for everything, they fight for everything."
"Their a football playing side, it's quite rare"
The Saints' win at West Brom last week was their first in 13 Premier League games and they could give record-signing Guido Carrillo his first home start for the visit of the Reds and Klopp believes Manuel Pelligrino's side are one of the few who still try to play football despite their league position:
"The quality of the squad is really, really good. They will want to show it. But we have our own targets. Again it’s a very, very interesting challenge.
"We know a lot about Southampton and the way they play, it’s a football-playing side. It’s quite rare. Bournemouth and Southampton are two teams in this area of the table still football playing, nice build-up, with good players on the pitch, good options, different options – Ward-Prowse, Davis, Hojbjerg – and different systems and all that stuff. That’s a job to do, for sure," Klopp added.
Champions League not the current focus
Liverpool will finally return to the Champions League on Wednesday when they travel to the Estádio do Dragão hoping to take a good result back to Merseyside with the return leg taking place on March 6th.
Last season's Primeira Liga runners-up will prove difficult opponents for the Reds after the Portuguese side qualified through a tough group that included Beşiktaş, RB Leipzig and last season's semi-finalists Monaco.
However, despite the crucial fixture, Klopp is only focussed on the Reds current league fixture in the south coast: "I have experience with European football and I never thought about the European game the few days [before], the main focus is always on the next game. In this case, that is Southampton.
"We cannot and will not think about the Champions League game. We have the squad we have, and we have to use it. But it’s not about rotating; it’s a completely normal week between the two games and that means full power or whatever it will be.
"We will not think about Porto, you cannot. There are only important games left in the Premier League, and that’s how it is in the Champions League. We didn’t think about Porto so far – we have enough time after the game," Klopp continued.
Trent continues to impress
The Reds 19-year-old full-back has continued to impress in recent weeks with key performances his most recent being a sturdy outing agaisnt Spurs, conducting himself well against the difficult task of keeping Kieran Trippier at bay.
Klopp believes the youngster will continue to impress and when asked about the youth academy's prospect the German manager couldn't help but show his admiration:
"He is still a young boy. He's improved a lot, especially in training, in the last few months. In the beginning he trained a little bit like a kid, ups and downs.
"It’s a consistent high level, good attitude and he can show his skills. The football part of the position seems to be pretty easy for him; he is really quick, he has a fantastic right foot, the left foot is not too bad, really good crosses, football smart, a good view for spaces.
"We probably have the two youngest full-backs in the league pretty much, and now Joe is out. So it is really good that we have Trent. He developed a lot, like Joe did – different players obviously but both can play the position.
"That helps us a lot. Now he is in charge, that’s good for us and good for him. Hopefully he can deliver again."