Southampton boss Pellegrino: Stephens stepping up thanks to Van Dijk sale

You cannot be third without fantastic players’ Klopp all praise for Salah Firmino

Virgil Van Dijk said he enjoyed playing the pantomime villain on his return to Southampton as Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool ran out 2-0 winners at St. Mary's.

Despite climbing the Premier League table after ending a 13-game win less streak in the league on Saturday, Southampton could still find themselves back down in the relegation zone before kick-off, highlighting the importance of trying to take points from every game we play until we're safe.

It put pressure on Manchester United, who suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Newcastle at St James' Park, Liverpool are just two points off Jose Mourinho's side.

And this is how things stayed for the remainder of the clash, with the Saints struggling to create clear-cut goalscoring opportunities over the course of the second-half, whereas Liverpool could easily have added to their goal tally through the likes of Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Heavy rotation around the festive period was designed for the objective that Liverpool could fire on all cylinders when winter turned into spring and, while Man City are out of sight, that period arrives as Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal show signs of faltering.

Despite naming a full-strength team, Klopp will also be keeping one eye out for Liverpool's Champions League first-leg knockout tie away to Porto on Wednesday. The whole Southampton team have only scored seven more league goals than Salah has in 2017-18.

Mauricio Pellegrino's first six months in the Southampton job were similar to his short stint as a centre-half at Liverpool: underwhelming.

In the eyes of some home fans, this game was a free-hit.

"We will try to win the next game and until the end we will be there". Here's to an emphatic three points. Guido Carrillo starts up top.

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