Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl has admitted that whatever Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp changed in the summer has worked impressively for his team.
The Reds have sprung back to somewhere near their best form following a dramatic downturn in form last season. Indeed, while Liverpool won the Premier League in 2019/20, they dropped off last term.
They did end up finishing third, but only after a 10-match unbeaten run at the end of the campaign. Before then, though, they lost six in a row at Anfield, an unprecedented run at the club.
In and around that spell of form, Hasenhuttl claimed his only win as Saints boss against Liverpool in January. The hosts won 1-0 on the south coast, Danny Ings’ second-minute goal proving enough.
However, Liverpool have only lost one game all season so far this term. They are well in the title race and have clinched five wins from five in the Champions League.
The return of fans to Anfield and key players such as Virgil van Dijk from injury has helped. According to Hasenhuttl, Klopp’s men now look back to their best.
“We cannot deny that the stats at Anfield are not the best for us,” the manager told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash at Anfield.
“We didn’t score so far or have the perfect game so far there. We have won game against them since I was here, which was at home.
“We play in the same league but we are not a McLaren or a Red Bull, it is quite tough when you race against these cars. You need to make yourself big in the turns to not let them pass.
“When you see Liverpool in the moment, they are coming back to their best shape. It seems to me that they’re playing again like in the season they became champions.
“They were still at a high level last season, but hadn’t been that hungry and not that quick in their transitions. I don’t know what they changed in the summer, but it seems that they found their identity back and it makes it difficult to get something against such a side.”
Indeed, such was the magnitude of January’s victory for Hasenhuttl, he was in tears at full time.
Hasenhuttl will not replicate Liverpool tears
However, he fully expects Liverpool to be back to their best this time around.
He said when asked if he would replicate such emotion if Southampton win on Saturday: “I don’t think so. It is always a pleasure for me to play against a team of Jurgen’s and it is always one of the biggest challenges you can imagine in football.
“And with the crowd, it’s even harder to get something there.”
Nevertheless, Southampton head into the match off the back of two wins from three Premier League games.