Liverpool boss Jürgen Klopp has praised Southampton for doing an “unbelievable job” in pushing on again this season.
Klopp was a beneficiary of Liverpool’s spending power to lure Sadio Mané to Anfield in the summer, and the German tactician says not only have Saints recruited well again, but continue to be a feared opponent in the Premier League.
“Southampton, if you would have asked me nearly at each point in the season until now, I would have said [they are] the biggest surprise for me again,” he told reporters ahead of Saturday’s game.
“They did - again - an unbelievable job. We have a really good team and I think four players from our team are from Southampton and a few other clubs use them too, I would say.
“Again, they have this team and [made a] perfect decision with the manager. Claude Puel is an unbelievably experienced man and you can see it in each game.
“We watched three of their games and, results-wise, it was not that good in the last few games because of different reasons but it was not about the performance.
“The performance was always good, even when they lost against Chelsea or whatever it was good. That's what we think about now and not what we did up to now.”
When pushed further on what he thought made Southampton a good club, Klopp hailed the work done behind-the-scenes at the club.
“They had to replace a manager, a very good manager, what a decision, really great,” he highlighted.
“They had to replace Sadio Mané; if you asked me now who would have been the best replacement, [Nathan] Redmond is quite a good choice. They had to replace [Graziano] Pellè; [it] worked! They could keep [Dušan] Tadić - a very good player. It's all around a good football team.
“The scouting is obviously really, really good. [That’s how] the job should be done and so that’s the only thing I say.
“Not to forget that we want to go there and win, not to celebrate their wonderful scouting department. Now we play against them, we know what we have to do.”