We deserve to be on top: Klopp

Liverpool's Joel Matip rises to nod in their second goal against Southampton. It followed Xherdan Shaqiri's shot which hit Shane Long before going in off Wesley Hoedt for an own goal - the opener in the Premier League leaders' 3-0 home win on Saturday.
Liverpool's Joel Matip rises to nod in their second goal against Southampton. It followed Xherdan Shaqiri's shot which hit Shane Long before going in off Wesley Hoedt for an own goal - the opener in the Premier League leaders' 3-0 home win on Saturday.PHOTOS: REUTERS
Liverpool's Joel Matip rises to nod in their second goal against Southampton. It followed Xherdan Shaqiri's (above) shot which hit Shane Long before going in off Wesley Hoedt for an own goal - the opener in the Premier League leaders' 3-0 home win on Satu
Liverpool's Joel Matip rises to nod in their second goal against Southampton. It followed Xherdan Shaqiri's (above) shot which hit Shane Long before going in off Wesley Hoedt for an own goal - the opener in the Premier League leaders' 3-0 home win on Saturday.PHOTOS: REUTERS

Manager hails Reds for overcoming different types of opponents after their sixth win in as many league games

LONDON • Jurgen Klopp has admitted Liverpool's flying start to the season has taken him by surprise, after the Reds' sixth successive Premier League game on Saturday.

The comfortable 3-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield was wrapped up by half-time, with the victory marking Liverpool's best opening run to a campaign since eight league victories on the spin in the 1990-91 season.

Saints manager Mark Hughes, now without a league win in 12 visits to Anfield with six different teams, could only admit that it was an exercise in "damage limitation".

His opposite number was, however, happy to welcome another unexpected milestone on his team's journey, with Klopp's red-hot men extending their 100 per cent record to seven straight matches in all competitions this term.

"I lost seven games in a row once (as the Mainz manager), that felt different. But then, we won game number eight 5-0, very cool," he said.

"It's a surprise, but all the performances we showed so far were good enough to win the games.

"Different challenges, different styles of opponent, the boys were there, really in the situation and in the game."

  • 23-0

    Liverpool's league goals for and against at Anfield since February.

    1990

    Liverpool's current start is their best since eight straight victories in the old Division One.

The German also explained the half-time removal of winger Xherdan Shaqiri and the second-half substitution of Virgil van Dijk, the world's most expensive defender at £75 million (S$133.7 million), who left the pitch clutching his ribs.

Klopp revealed Shaqiri's early substitution in his first Liverpool start was purely tactical despite his involvement in the build-up to Liverpool's opener - his shot hit Shane Long before going in off Wesley Hoedt - and his superb long-range free kick which rebounded against the bar, leading to Mohamed Salah's tap-in for the third.

"I said to Shaq that I'd never taken a player off at half-time after such an influential half.

"He was not injured, but I wanted to control the game, go back to our normal formation and that helped," he insisted.

And the 51-year-old revealed the Swiss international, a £13.5 million close-season signing, understood the reasoning behind the decision.

"He's a fantastic boy, so there was no problem. I explained it to him, usually I don't explain substitutions, but I thought today, it made a bit of sense," Klopp added.

"It's just good to have him. You saw the free kick, it was outstanding. What a ball."

As for van Dijk, Klopp decided not to take any risks, lest his key centre-back aggravate a bruised rib, which the Dutch international carried into the Champions League game against Paris Saint-Germain last Tuesday.

"He had already before the PSG game kind of a bruised rib, which is very uncomfortable, and today, he got another hit there," he said.

"It's not cool, but should not be too serious. He said he couldn't shout any more, so that's obviously 60 per cent less of his level."

Klopp's 600th managerial game saw Liverpool extend a formidable unbeaten home league record to 18 games and 17 months at Anfield.

No opposing player has scored against Liverpool in the league since February, with Klopp's men scoring 23 unanswered goals in the same period.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2018, with the headline 'We deserve to be on top: Klopp'. Print Edition | Subscribe