Sport Van Dijk return and Salah, Firmino skills give Klopp reason to be cheerful

00:20  12 february  2018
00:20  12 february  2018 Source:   goal.com

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VirgilvanDijk - cropped: Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk © Provided by Goal Liverpool centre-back Virgil van Dijk

Jurgen Klopp praised Virgil van Dijk's character after the defender eased his way through a hostile return to Southampton.

Van Dijk completed a long-mooted move to Anfield from St Mary's last month, becoming the most expensive defender of all time in the process.

Klopp has gently eased him into the first team and checked whether the Netherlands international was ready to withstand the inevitable boos on his return to the south coast on Sunday.

The 26-year-old centre-back was seldom troubled as goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah enhanced Liverpool's prospects of a top-four finish against the relegation-threatened Saints.

Liverpool win was 'nearly perfect', says Klopp

  Liverpool win was 'nearly perfect', says Klopp Goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah secured victory for Liverpool over Southampton, with Jurgen Klopp left saluting the triumph.Liverpool's routine 2-0 win over struggling Southampton left Jurgen Klopp beaming, praising what he felt was a "nearly perfect" day at St Mary's.

Jurgen Klopp has described Liverpool’s deal for Virgil van Dijk as the perfect business for both clubs and feels the clubs have a good relationship. He also provided the cross from which Roberto Firmino almost equalised in the dying seconds of that game.

Could Klopp be seeking a new long-term partner for Van Dijk ? It seems highly unlikely Ings will break into the first-team setup on a regular basis, particularly with Firmino in such strong form. Virgil van Dijk expecting hostile reception as he targets winning return to Southampton.

"He did really well, he dealt with the situation fantastically," Klopp told a post-fight news conference when asked about Van Dijk's display.

"We had a little talk before the game and I asked, 'What do you think?'

"He said, 'No, I'm fine boss'. I don't want to make him nervous if he isn't nervous and obviously he wasn't and that's good.

"I understand everything in football. The crowd is there to make life difficult for the opponent but I think it was not too difficult for him from this point of view and I'm happy about it."

Salah and Firmino now have 22 and 12 goals in the Premier League respectively this season, with 49 combined in all competitions. They coolly laid on goals for each other at St Mary's.

"I really think [Sergio] Aguero and [Harry] Kane and a few others are really good players as well, 100 per cent," said Klopp when considering the duo's place among the finest forwards in the division.

Van Dijk embraced hostile Southampton atmosphere

  Van Dijk embraced hostile Southampton atmosphere Virgil van Dijk was met by a chorus of boos upon his return to Southampton on Sunday afternoon, but this did not deter him as he helped Liverpool to a routine 2-0 win at St Mary’s Stadium. The Reds scored two first-half goals, courtesy of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, and that was enough to see off a rather uninspiring Southampton side. It was Van Dijk’s first game back on the south coast since his controversial January move to Liverpool and his return prompted a hostile atmosphere at Southampton. However, as quoted by the Evening Standard, the Dutchman claims he thrived from the boos and embraced the reception he received. “You just enjoy it. It’s the only thing I think you can do. I think it is a bit unfair because no-one really knows what happened over the summer and the last few months but I just kept my head down and enjoyed it.” “I think we should have scored more. We deserved the win but we should have made it a bit easier for ourselves.” Van Dijk turned in an impressive display at the back, displaying composure on the ball and aerial prowess against Guido Carrillo throughout. After a difficult opening to his career at Anfield, the 26-year-old will hope that the win and clean sheet away at his former side will act as the catalyst for a good vein of form as the business-end of the season begins.

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Meanwhile in attack, Sturridge should be given the chance to spark to life with the help of Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah , completing a lineup full of speed and goal-threat. Virgil van Dijk expecting hostile reception as he targets winning return to Southampton.

"Our boys are important for us. What I love is – of course their skills and attitude – but the work-rate is outstanding.

"Both get to profit from our style of play, that's for sure as well. We play in the areas where they like to have the ball.

"In this strong league you cannot be third without fantastic players and yes, they are two of them."

Third could conceivably become second over the coming weeks, with Manchester United now only two points ahead of Klopp's men after their shock 1-0 loss at Newcastle United.

"We didn't know before the game that United would lose, but we know that we are not too far away," the former Borussia Dortmund boss added.

"But it's not a battle between them and us, we play against them one more time in this season at least. For us, 54 points, that's important.

"What the other teams have, we have no influence on, so we need to win. We now have the Champions League, then we have West Ham at home, [which] is difficult."

Klopp tactics behind my form – Salah .
Mohamed Salah feels Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp deserves more credit for his goalscoring displays.Liverpool star Mohamed Salah paid tribute to Jurgen Klopp, saying the manager's tactics had led to his incredible form this season.

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