LONDON • Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he now understands the expectation surrounding Daniel Sturridge after the striker scored twice in a 6-1 League Cup win over Southampton on Wednesday.
The German himself knows a thing or two about living up to the hype, with Liverpool two steps away from a first trophy since 2012.
The Reds will face Stoke City in the League Cup semi-final, with the possibility of a title decider against either Manchester City or Merseyside rivals Everton.
"I have absolutely no problems with a match against Everton. As you could see, we have no problems with matches against Manchester City," said Klopp, who has masterminded seven wins in Liverpool's last eight matches.
"But we got Stoke. I had a few semi-finals in my life. There was never an easy one and Stoke will want (to reach) this final with everything they have."
Liverpool are also in the last 32 of the Europa League and just four points off the Champions League places in the Premier League.
But it was Liverpool's latest performance at St Mary's - their biggest win of the season - that had the pundits purring.
"Klopp has been at Liverpool just a matter of weeks but the transformation is remarkable, with uncut adrenaline and confidence injected through every player and the German's message fully embraced by a squad that had lost its way under his predecessor Brendan Rodgers," wrote BBC chief football writer Phil McNulty.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp was impressed too.
"Before that, they'd won one out of 10 games," said the former Liverpool midfielder.
"At the moment, there's no limit to what Liverpool can do. I have been blown away by what he has achieved so far."
Sadio Mane had headed Southampton in front after 39 seconds - the fastest goal by a top-flight side this season. Yet, the Saints quickly faded as they sank to their heaviest home defeat since March 1959.
Injury-prone Sturridge marked his first start since Oct 4 with a quick-fire brace in the space of four first-half minutes.
He applied smooth finishes to fine passes from midfielders Joe Allen and Emre Can in the 25th and 29th minutes, leaving him with a return of four goals from five appearances this term.
"I said to him: Now I know what everybody's talking about so thank you," Klopp revealed.
Belgian striker Divock Origi went one better than the England international, claiming a treble as the visitors roared back, with substitute Jordon Ibe also on target.
Southampton manager Ronald Koeman admitted he was to blame after deciding to change the team's system at half-time.
The Dutchman promised to review his tactics ahead of tomorrow's Premier League meeting with bottom club Aston Villa.
"Maybe we have to play more defensively. I don't like that because I like to go forward, but we will speak about that tomorrow with the players, about what's the best to do to prepare ourselves for Saturday."