Reds target Saints win to end March with 'something special'

LONDON • Juergen Klopp has targeted a special end to his first season in charge of Liverpool as his side head to Southampton today in buoyant mood.

This has been an excellent month for his side, who have responded positively since ending last month with a League Cup final defeat on penalties against Manchester City.

Premier League wins over City and Crystal Palace were accompanied by the sweet sensation of a Europa League last-16 victory over bitter rivals Manchester United.

It means the German has a European quarter-final against his former club Borussia Dortmund to look forward to next month. But first comes the task of finishing this month unbeaten.

Liverpool's last trip to Southampton saw arguably their best away performance of the season, a 6-1 victory in the League Cup quarter-finals in December.

Since then, the Reds have struggled for consistency, but they have won their last three league matches, scoring 11 goals and conceding just once in the process.

It means they go into the weekend in eighth place, seven points from the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot.

"Could we do something special this season? The only thing I can say is that I hope so," Klopp said.

"We have not always been perfect over the last few weeks, but we have been more than okay. We have to carry on in this way."

Southampton's need for a win is just as great as Liverpool's, with Ronald Koeman's side one place above Klopp's and only goal difference separating the two teams.

Victory at Stoke City last time out ended a run of three successive defeats and the Dutchman is in no doubt that his side need a repeat if they are to maintain their hopes of qualifying for next season's Europa League.

"We knew our situation before the Stoke City game. It was a must-win game and I think the same is for this weekend," Koeman said. "We know the points and if we're still fighting for Europe I think we have to win.

"We spoke to the players about the schedule and this is the last one before the international break and, of course, if you get a win against Liverpool that makes a big step forward."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SOUTHAMPTON V LIVERPOOL
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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 20, 2016, with the headline 'Reds target Saints win to end March with 'something special''. Print Edition | Subscribe