Liverpool-Southampton Preview

·3 min read

Jurgen Klopp is encouraged by videos of Virgil van Dijk training in the gym but warned the commanding Liverpool centre-back still has a long road to recovery ahead of him.

Van Dijk suffered a serious knee injury during the 2-2 draw against Everton in October's Merseyside derby, as a result of a robust challenge from Jordan Pickford.

He is likely to miss the majority of the season while his status for the delayed Euro 2020 remains unclear.

This week, Reds fans would have been boosted by the sight of Van Dijk's workouts in Dubai - where Netherlands great Clarence Seedorf also dropped in.

"Good, very good I have no problem talking about Virgil van Dijk," Klopp said when previewing Monday's Premier League clash against Van Dijk's former club Southampton.

"It's very good but still a long way to go that's (the deal with) this kind of injury. I'm happy when I see these videos because it just shows he makes good progress but it will still take a lot of time that's how it is.

"I'd like to say something else but these are the facts unfortunately."

Liverpool head to Southampton on the back of two successive draws, with their lead at the top of the Premier League cut to just three points - indeed, Manchester United will be level with the Reds should they beat Aston Villa on Friday.

Southampton, meanwhile, have not won in four games, drawing three of them, but Ralph Hasenhuttl reflected on his team making big strides forward in 2020.

"It's really a good 2020, apart from the general situation of not having a normal life for everybody, but I hope this will come back and we will end this season in a different way to what we have at the moment," said Hasenhuttl, who has been cleared to stop self-isolating after returning a negative COVID-19 test result.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Southampton - Jannik Vestergaard

Vestergaard has been a crucial cog for Southampton this season, with his passing ability and aerial prowess proving key. Up against Liverpool's fearsome attack - albeit one which has not been firing on all cylinders recently - he will have to be at his best.

Liverpool - Nathaniel Phillips

With Joel Matip joining Van Dijk and Joe Gomez on the sidelines, Phillips was called on against Newcastle United. The youngster performed well enough, though was given the run around at times by Callum Wilson, and Che Adams and Danny Ings should prove to be a more testing strike force.

KEY OPTA FACTS

•Southampton have lost each of their last six Premier League meetings with Liverpool, scoring just twice and conceding 17 goals in these games.

•Liverpool have won their first league game in just one of the last eight calendar years when kicking off the new year away from home (D4 L3), with that victory coming at Burnley in 2018.

•Southampton have played out back-to-back goalless draws in the Premier League for the first time since October 2018 under Mark Hughes - they have never registered three consecutive goalless draws in their league history.

•Since Hasenhuttl took charge of Southampton in December 2018, ex-Liverpool forward Ings has been directly involved in 38 goals in the Premier League (31 goals and seven assists); 16 more than the player with the next most at the club in this period (22 - James Ward-Prowse).

•Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah has scored seven goals in his six Premier League games against Southampton, only scoring more against Bournemouth (8) and Watford (8) in the competition.