Jurgen Klopp declared "thank God these people don't make decisions" when asked if in-form Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara had won over his doubters.

Thiago arrived from Bayern Munich ahead of the 2020-21 season with many pundits questioning whether he would slow down Liverpool's high-octane game and if he could adapt to the rigours of the Premier League.

A maiden campaign disrupted by injury, and one that saw depleted Liverpool scramble to secure Champions League football, may have given rise to those who hold such a viewpoint.

But it always looked a sketchy opinion at best and Thiago is sparkling in a Reds side who still hold aspirations of a sensational quadruple.

Having dominated Manchester City in last week's FA Cup semi-final with his exquisite range of passing, the Spain international repeated the trick in a 4-0 dismantling of rivals Manchester United in midweek.

For Liverpool boss Klopp there was never any doubt about the qualities Thiago would bring to his midfield.

"People questioned if he suits us? Thank God these people don't make decisions," Klopp said ahead of Sunday's Merseyside derby against Everton.

"If a player calms games down in moments, it's just of course nothing we thought. Thiago wanted to join us and he knew how we play. He thinks a lot about football.

"I don't like to talk too much about one player. Not that he doesn't deserve it but I leave this room and I can hear that such and such a player is injured, so let's just carry on."

Liverpool have already secured the EFL Cup this season, are in the final of the FA Cup, have a semi-final against Villarreal in the Champions League on the horizon, and trail City by a solitary point in a thrilling title race.

Klopp concedes such pressure is not always the most enjoyable experience for this star-studded squad.

"[They don't enjoy it] all the time, but a lot. It's an incredibly tough situation and we play pretty much all the time," he added.

"We love the situation we are in. You cannot plan being in everything. We won one competition, that's great, but there are still three more competitions to go.

"We are looking forward to everything that is coming up."

While the red side of Merseyside is rocking, Everton are in a perilous position.

The Toffees are just a point above the drop zone after Burnley defeated Southampton on Thursday, albeit with a game in hand, and are in a desperate situation as the season draws to a close.

Klopp hopes Frank Lampard's side can find a way to stave off the drop.

"Of course [I would miss playing Everton]," he said.

"Playing United the other night makes it different, usually the full week before you play Everton there are full talks about the derby."

Sadio Mane pledged Liverpool will fight for a "dream" quadruple after scoring twice in the Reds' thrilling FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City.

Mane added to Ibrahima Konate's opener with a first-half double, closing down stand-in City goalkeeper Zack Steffen to score in bizarre fashion before netting a brilliant volley on the stroke of half-time to make it 3-0.

Goals at either end of the second half from Jack Grealish and Bernardo Silva hauled City back into the contest, but Liverpool held firm.

Having scored in a thrilling 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium last week, Mane has now netted 10 goals against City in all competitions, only finding the net more often against Crystal Palace (12) amongst Premier League teams.

After becoming the first Liverpool player to score a Wembley double since Steve McManaman did so in the 1995 EFL Cup final against Bolton Wanderers, Mane told BBC Sport: "I think from the start of the game we played very well. We started very well, everybody was on the front foot, we pressed them high. 

"We pushed them to make a mistake [for his first goal] and for that we got our reward.

"That's Liverpool, that's our style of play. Of course, it was not easy for them. I think that made the difference.

"I think today is special because we faced one of the best teams in the world. If you win this kind of game – especially a semi-final – of course, it's a big dream, a big win. We are very pleased and very happy to qualify for the final."

With the Reds progressing to their first FA Cup final since 2012, in addition to battling City for the Premier League title and facing Villarreal in the Champions League semi-finals, they could yet win an unprecedented quadruple.

"We'll see," he said. "We have a lot of games to go, we will try to do our best. 

"It's a dream, for sure. We'll go for it, we'll fight for it."

 

Mane's brace also made him the first Liverpool player to score an FA Cup semi-final double since Robbie Fowler netted twice in a 3-0 win over Aston Villa in 1996, and team-mate Thiago Alcantara was keen to highlight Mane's contribution.

"It talks about us, it talks about our hunger when we press like Sadio's [first] goal, it talks about the players we have in terms of Sadio's second goal, and also the great passers we have," he told Liverpool's official website.

"He [Mane] is a fighter with a lot of technique, so he knows how to mix it up and to do what we need. He was unbelievable.

"I think the first half was amazing, our best first half this season. Suddenly in the second half we just threw away the first half, but we are really happy with the qualification."

Liverpool's win was their first against City at Wembley, having lost both of their previous head-to-head clashes at the national stadium on penalties after 1-1 draws (the 2016 League Cup final and the 2019 Community Shield).

Thiago Alcantara is relishing the most "exciting" month of his career as Liverpool prepare for a crunch April schedule.

Jurgen Klopp's side face eight matches in April as they strive to pull off an unprecedented quadruple. 

The Reds are in the hunt for the Premier League title, the FA Cup and Champions League glory after lifting the EFL Cup.

They face leaders Manchester City in the Premier League and an FA Cup semi-final against Pep Guardiola's side following two Champions League quarter-final showdowns with Benfica.

Spain midfielder Thiago is excited about playing in so many matches with so much at stake.

"The other day I was talking with some friends about it," he told the club's official website.

"I never had, in the years that I have been involved in football, I never had a month so exciting like this with such important and exciting matches every three days. So it will be amazing.

"For sure it is exciting because you are competing against the best, in the best competitions as well, but also because it reminds you that we are in finals. 

"It looks like a World Cup, a European Cup, where every game is a final. With that we are in a one-mission mood and we are there."

Liverpool can go top of the table if they avoid defeat to Watford at Anfield on Sunday, with City travelling to Burnley later in the day.

Thiago does not believe that would give the Merseyside club a psychological boost in the title race.

"No, I don’t think so," he added. "I don’t think to see us on top before City plays would be a boost.

"No, it’s just that we are in a moment where every three points count and we are really glad to arrive at this position and fight and depend on us."

Jurgen Klopp is very wary of the threat posed to Liverpool by Inter ahead of their Champions League last-16 second leg, but he has been boosted by positive injury news.

The Reds head into the second leg at Anfield 2-0 up thanks to a commendable win in San Siro last month, even if the scoreline flattered them.

Klopp suggested the two-goal advantage is somewhat precarious, however, claiming it to be the most overturned scoreline in football.

But only once in Champions League history has a team ever lost the first leg of a knockout tie by two or more goals at home and still gone on to progress, with Manchester United doing so against Paris Saint-Germain at this stage three years ago.

That is the only such example in 41 previous instances of the scenario, meaning that, despite Klopp's concerns, Liverpool are in a very strong position.

Klopp is not risking complacency, though, reminding his team that Inter will not be on Merseyside as "tourists".

Asked what he feels the main danger is ahead of Tuesday's second leg, Klopp told reporters: "It's a danger everyone knows about: it's a lead that gets turned over the most in the history of football I think.

"You can't have a team at half-time that thinks they are already through. Then you are on the wrong path.

"It's a much better result than we expected if I'm honest. The game didn't look like we would win it 2-0 for most of it. It is a tough tie and was a really difficult game.

"We knew they had quality but now we know they have real quality. They will show up here after winning their last game 5-0. Yes, against bottom of the table, but still really impressive. [Lautaro] Martinez scored [a hat-trick], [Edin] Dzeko scored, [Robin] Gosens is back.

"I'm really happy [Nicolo] Barella isn't playing because he set up three or four chances. That's a really good, experienced team who don't come here as tourists.

"They want to chase the game and that's what we want to do, we're not a team that defends results. We want to attack the game, so let's see what we can do."

Liverpool's cause should be aided by the likely returns of at least two important players, with Thiago Alcantara and Joel Matip back in contention following brief absences through injury.

"All trained yesterday, fully," Klopp said of them and Roberto Firmino. "Not sure what we make of that yet exactly to be honest, we have to see how they react.

"Thiago was only a week out so should be fine but I have to wait for it. Joel was only three or four days so is fine.

"Firmino was a bit longer, [Sunday was his] first session so we will see. It might make sense to give him a few more days as we don't train fully today as it's MD-1, and Bobby might need more intense work."

Despite Klopp's apparent concerns about the scoreline, the omens are good for Liverpool.

They have kept more home clean sheets in the competition since the start of 2017-18 than any other team (15 in 24) – that is 63 per cent, the best proportion of shutouts of all clubs to play at least 10 home games in the Champions League in that period.

Jurgen Klopp expects Thiago Alcantara to be in contention to face Inter after the Liverpool midfielder was forced to miss the EFL Cup final due to a hamstring injury.

The Spain international was in tears after dropping out of the starting line-up against Chelsea at Wembley.

Liverpool went on to win 11-10 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes, Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga, who was brought on for the shoot-out, missing the decisive spot-kick.

Thiago will miss Wednesday's FA Cup clash with Norwich City at Anfield and will likely sit out the Premier League game with West Ham on Saturday, but Klopp hopes he will be available for the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Inter, in which Liverpool hold a 2-0 lead after the first leg.

"He's not crying any more," the Reds manager told reporters on Tuesday. "This was a very emotional moment.

"We were all surprised. I watched the whole warm-up, didn't see anything, and I came in the dressing room and he's on the bed, telling me he feels something in his hamstring, which is not good obviously.

"We had to make the decision that he could not start at this moment, when you are that close to playing a final.

"For the one player who won probably the most silverware in the whole squad, or as much as the whole squad together, to show this emotion... I didn't like that he didn't feel that good, but the desire to play the final I liked a lot.

"He's fine again but not fit again. For the weekend, I'm not sure; maybe Milan. After that, definitely."

Thiago has made 20 appearances for Liverpool in all competitions this season.

Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara was withdrawn from the Reds' starting XI for the EFL Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley Stadium after suffering an injury in the warm-up.

Naby Keita replaced the Spain international, with Harvey Elliott taking Keita's place among the substitutes.

Thiago – who was seen to be crying on the bench – has been in excellent form for the Reds, including playing 68 minutes in the 6-0 demolition of Leeds United on Wednesday before being subbed for Jordan Henderson, presumably to ensure he was fit for Sunday's final.

It had earlier been confirmed that Diogo Jota had made the bench after missing Premier League wins over Norwich City and Leeds United following a knock picked up against Inter in the Champions League on February 16.

Romelu Lukaku was named on the bench for a second straight game by Thomas Tuchel, while Chelsea opted for Edouard Mendy ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga in goal.

With the EFL Cup final upon us, focus turns to who can be the biggest difference makers when Chelsea take on Liverpool at Wembley on Sunday.

One player emerging as one of the chief influences for the Merseyside giants is Thiago Alcantara, who made his 50th appearance for the club in Wednesday's 6-0 thrashing of Leeds United.

He was a certified medal collector at Bayern Munich, and Sunday sees the former Barcelona midfielder's first opportunity to win a trophy with Liverpool. It has not all been a bed of roses for him, though.

A statement of intent

Liverpool were champions of England for the first time in three decades after romping to the Premier League title and had won the Champions League a year earlier.

Then in September 2020, the club announced the signing of Thiago.

The cultured midfielder was fresh off winning a treble of the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal and Champions League with Bayern.

However, doing so seemed like the perfect place to end things after seven years in Bavaria. After all, how could you ever top that?

So, he opted for a new challenge in England.

On his arrival, Thiago made clear his intention to continue adding to his trophy haul at Anfield.

"When the years are passing, you are trying to win as much as you can – and when you win, you want to win more," he told Liverpool's website after his move for a reported fee of £20million (€23.8m).

His debut immediately showed what a difference he could make, as he came on at half-time against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge with the score 0-0, but the hosts reduced to ten men after Andreas Christensen's red card. 

In his 45 minutes on the pitch, Thiago completed more passes (75) than any Chelsea player did across the entire game. Two Sadio Mane goals gave Liverpool a win that seemed to suggest they could potentially march to another title in 2020-21, though that would ultimately be far from the case. 

After missing nearly a month with COVID-19, his second appearance came in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park in October where he shone once again, but it was a game that saw Virgil van Dijk suffer a season-ending knee injury.

On top of that, Thiago was on the end of a rash Richarlison challenge. The former Barca man would not play again until December.

He returned when Liverpool were down to the bare bones in defence. Joe Gomez was also out for the season and Joel Matip would not be far behind.

Midfielders Jordan Henderson and Fabinho were regularly having to play at centre-back, meaning Thiago came into an unsettled team that could not stop dropping points.

Liverpool lost nine of the first 21 games in which Thiago featured, including six games in a row at Anfield, while they were dumped out of the FA Cup and Champions League.

Klopp was eventually able to stop the rot by utilising Nat Phillips and Rhys Williams, who performed admirably in defence as Liverpool rescued a third-place finish, but fielding relative rookies at the back completely changed how the Reds played.

Some pundits surmised the player was unsuited to Klopp's high press, high tempo approach, but quite simply, Liverpool were not playing Klopp's football during the second half of last season. As seen since the return of Van Dijk and Matip, as well as the addition of Ibrahima Konate from RB Leipzig, he needs a certain grade of centre-back to be able to do that.

Thiago came into his second season looking forward to playing in a team with its regular spine for the first time since that fateful game at Goodison Park, and on the occasions where he has been able to, he has shown just why he is rated so highly.

He scored a stunning goal against Porto in the Champions League group stage, hitting the ball from range with such delicate precision that it seemed to glide an inch off the ground all the way from his foot until it nestled in the corner of the Kop-end net.

Thiago is not a goalscorer though, or even much of a goal creator, directly anyway. In his 235 appearances for Bayern he scored just 31 goals and provided 35 assists, while so far in England he has three goals and one assist in his 50 outings.

However, he is clearly making a difference to the 2021-22 iteration of Liverpool.

Thiago has missed 20 games this season either through injury or COVID-19, and Liverpool have played 28 fixtures in all competitions without him in their starting XI.

Of those, they have won 18 (64.3 per cent), drawn eight and lost two, with an average of 2.5 goals for per game, and one goal against.

Yet Liverpool have won all 12 matches in which Thiago has started, with an average of 2.9 goals for per game, and just 0.2 goals against.

A prime example of his increasing influence came against Norwich City. Thiago was introduced in the 62nd minute with his team 1-0 down. Five minutes later, Liverpool were 2-1 up.

Only six of Liverpool's starters attempted more than his 48 passes despite his short time on the pitch, and Thiago completed 45 (93.8 per cent). Of those passes, 34 were in Norwich's half.

Thiago carried that form on in the rout of Leeds, completing 52 of his 56 passes (92.9 per cent, the highest in the game, but he also showed another side to of his ability, making four tackles, twice as many as the next most from a team-mate (Fabinho), before being substituted in the 68th minute.

Keeping him fit is the big challenge, but should he be able to do so, Klopp potentially now has the depth to challenge on all fronts.

With a quadruple still in the offing, having Thiago available could be the difference between success and failure in multiple competitions for 

Who knows? If Liverpool overcome Chelsea on Sunday and win the EFL Cup for a record ninth time, perhaps he can even eclipse that sensational final season at Bayern after all.

Jurgen Klopp says it is vital for Liverpool to keep Thiago Alcantara fit after he came off the bench to pull the strings in Liverpool's 3-1 Premier League win over Norwich City.

Milot Rashica's deflected strike gave the relegation-threatened Canaries a shock lead in the 48th minute at Anfield on Saturday, but the Reds stormed back to extend their winning run to eight games.

Sadio Mane equalised with an acrobatic volley and Mohamed Salah put Liverpool in front three minutes later with his 150th goal for the club.

Luis Díaz opened his Reds account nine minutes from time as they reduced Manchester City's lead at the top of the table to six points ahead of the champions' clash with Tottenham, also taking their tally of goals for the season to the 100 mark.

Klopp was without the injured Roberto Firmino and made seven changes to his team following the Champions League victory over Inter in midweek.

Thiago was brought on along with Divock Origi just before Mane equalised as Klopp altered Liverpool's shape and the Spain midfielder was outstanding in the middle of the park.

Klopp told Match of the Day: "Thiago with his passing, really fresh, really relaxed, full of confidence, that helped as well. He is a good player, we just have to make sure we can keep him fit.

"Diogo [Jota] was not available and we don't know how long it will take, Bobby Firmino has a muscle problem and is out for a while, so we have to keep the boys fit and create a spirit like the boys did today in the game."

Norwich gave a great account of themselves as they defended for their lives and posed a threat on the break.

Klopp praised the Canaries and was pleased with the way his side rallied to stretch their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

"It had its moments, the longer the game went on the more I could enjoy it, obviously. A week ago when we played at Burnley, they give you a proper fight and over the years you learn to deal with these situations, again today," the German said.

"Norwich have a very different style but played a proper game, defended deep, had their counter-attacks, made it really tricky for us.

"We had moments and then the game can look completely different, then a deflected ball can be pretty decisive, but these boys just don't give up, we could help from the bench, bringing really good players on and that was like three days ago the game changer.

"We played really good football and scored wonderful goals. The coaching team, we changed the system as well, go for 4-4-2 and that is necessary in a moment like this that you throw all the knowledge you have together - it gave them a proper challenge to deal with because all of a sudden we were a threat in all moments."

Jurgen Klopp allayed concerns over Thiago Alcantara's hip injury after Liverpool beat Shrewsbury Town 4-1 in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday.

Thiago has missed the last three matches, raising fears the midfielder could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Reds manager Klopp does not expect the Spain international to be out of action for too long, though.

Asked if Thiago could be out for the rest of the season, Klopp said: "No, neither March nor [the] end of the season is in my mind.

"It is something around the hip, that is the situation and it needs time now. He didn't train this week but we expect him to be back to do rehab stuff from tomorrow on and then we will see.

"No, it is not that he is out until the end of the season, not at all."

Klopp praised Kaide Gordon and was impressed with the way his Liverpool side fought back to set to an FA Cup fourth round time at home to Cardiff City.

Daniel Udoh gave the Shrews a shock lead, but their joy was short-lived on Merseyside.

Gordon became the second-youngest goalscorer in the Reds' history at the age of 17 years and 96 days, equalising with a clinical finish after taking a good touch to control the ball inside the penalty area.

Fabinho put Liverpool in front with a penalty just before half-time and struck again with the final kick of the game after Roberto Firmino came off the bench to find the back of the net with a cheeky backheel.

Klopp, back on the touchline following an absence due to his positive COVID-19 test, was not surprised to see former Derby County teenager Gordon make his mark.

He told BBC Sport: "He's a real talent and his main strength is his finishing."  

With Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita away at the Africa Cup of Nations, Liverpool were further depleted by the loss of Trent Alexander-Arnold to COVID-19 for the tie.

Elijah Dixon-Bonner and Max Woltman made their first senior starts as Klopp went with a mixture of youth and experience.

The German said: "We've trained since Friday pretty much and that is what we decided with this line-up. The boys really fought hard.

"When you get the first goal against you so many things can happen, but I liked the way we responded.

"We started with five really young boys. They are really good players. We played so many safety passes in the first half. We knew we could play better football in the second half."

Thiago Alcantara missed Liverpool's game against Tottenham due to a suspected positive coronavirus test result, as Jurgen Klopp was left without a raft of key players.

The midfielder, who contracted the virus in 2020, has been placed into isolation after returning the suspect result during the pre-match round of tests.

Jordan Henderson also withdrew from the Reds' squad for Sunday's meeting with Antonio Conte's team after feeling unwell. However, the Liverpool captain has tested negative for the virus.

It meant manager Klopp was without his first-choice midfield for the match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, given Fabinho and Curtis Jones were also sidelined.

They, along with star defender Virgil van Dijk, had been absent from Thursday's win over Newcastle United at Anfield after returning suspected positive results.

Tyler Morton was handed a first Premier League start in midfield for the Spurs game, and he featured alongside James Milner and Naby Keita.

Liverpool's game was one of only four Premier League fixtures allowed to go ahead this weekend, with the other six matches all postponed due to coronavirus cases among teams involved.

Spurs, meanwhile, were back in action for the first time since beating Norwich City on December 5, after a COVID-19 outbreak in their camp.

Diogo Jota scored twice in the first half as Liverpool romped to a comfortable 4-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

The Portugal forward grabbed his first with less than two minutes played, turning Andy Robertson's low ball in before adding a second from close range after being set up by Mohamed Salah half an hour later.

Thiago Alcantara fired in a deflected third to give the Reds a commanding half-time lead before Virgil van Dijk steered a corner home to round off the scoring shortly after the restart.

The victory sees Liverpool keep the pressure up on league leaders Chelsea, moving to within a point of the Blues – although the Reds have played an extra game.

Liverpool got off to a flying start as Sadio Mane and Robertson combined on the left before the latter fizzed a low cross into the middle that Jota converted on the stretch.

A couple of chances fell Southampton's way after that, but Liverpool remained the side on top and doubled their lead in the 32nd minute as Salah squared for Jota to tap in his second after playing a neat one-two with Jordan Henderson on the right.

The Reds made it 3-0 just five minutes later as the ball fell to Thiago on the edge of the box and the midfielder advanced into the area before lashing a left-footed strike into the top-left corner via a hefty deflection off the knee of Lyanco.

Van Dijk extended Liverpool's advantage even further in the 52nd minute, volleying Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner under Alex McCarthy – who perhaps should have done better – and in.

Jota spurned a glorious chance to grab his hat-trick, diverting Robertson's cross wide of the target as Jurgen Klopp's men eased their way to the final whistle.

What does it mean? Reds put pressure on Chelsea

Liverpool's victory moves them to within one point of Thomas Tuchel's table-topping Chelsea side, with the Blues set for a heavyweight clash with Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

Salah races to Premier League goal involvement landmark

Salah has now been directly involved in 150 Premier League goals in his 171 games in the competition (108 goals, 42 assists) – only Alan Shearer (148 games) and Thierry Henry (163 games) reached as many goal involvements in fewer games than the Egypt star in the competition.

Salah has also been directly involved in 25 goals in all competitions this season (17 goals, eight assists), more than double the return of any other Premier League player.

Jota matches Wolves league tally

Jota has now scored 32 career Premier League goals, evenly split between Wolves and Liverpool (16 each).

He has reached the tally for the Reds in 36 fewer appearances, however (67 for Wolves, 31 for Liverpool) and with a better shot conversion rate (12.6 per cent with Wolves, 21.9 per cent with Liverpool).

What's next?

Liverpool's next fixture is a Merseyside derby with Everton at Goodison Park on Wednesday, while Southampton host Leicester City on the same day.

Jurgen Klopp promised Liverpool will do everything possible to ensure Thiago Alcantara stays fit enough to star throughout their Premier League title push.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich playmaker Thiago joined Liverpool in the wake of their 2019-20 league triumph and has endured a stop-start Anfield career.

Injuries have disrupted his progress and the 30-year-old Spain international has struggled to show his best form on a consistent basis.

A stunning Champions League goal against Porto on Wednesday was the highlight of a polished performance that followed an impressive display against Arsenal last week, though it remains to be seen whether Thiago starts on Saturday against Southampton.

Klopp wants to pace Thiago through the season rather than risk him suffering further physical woes, knowing his creative contributions could be hugely important.

"He's an incredible player for us of course, but we've found solutions when he was not available," said Klopp. "We have an incredible choice of players there [in midfield].

"Thiago has a very specific skill-set and is very helpful on the pitch when he has rhythm. The challenge we face is to make sure he can gain rhythm but not overdo it. We have that will all the players, pretty much.

"That's the challenge we face all the time, especially with all the games coming up."

Thiago arrived from Bayern with a big reputation but did not manage a single assist in 30 games last season across all competitions, although he created an average of 1.43 chances per 90 minutes played. That was down on most of his past seasons with Barcelona and Bayern, albeit it bettered his average for his final campaign at both clubs.

This season is still in its early stages, but Thiago is showing improvement in many areas of his game, with an assist already in the bag, his chances created in all competitions up to 1.82 per 90 minutes, and gains achieved in passes in the opposition half (49.67 per 90, up from 46.35), touches (102.3 per 90, up from 98.28) and ball recoveries (8.2, up from 7.47).

Klopp is enjoying having midfield options after a rash of injuries cleared up, describing it as "cool" to be in a position where his hand is not forced by limited availability.

He predicted a "proper fight" against Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton, although Liverpool have won seven of their last eight Premier League games against Saturday's visitors. The exception came recently: a 1-0 away loss in January last season.

Since a 1-0 win in September 2013, Southampton have gone winless in their last seven away league games against Liverpool (D2 L5), losing their last four at Anfield by an aggregate score of 12-0.

Klopp called Southampton "a proper team", "a very well drilled team", and said Liverpool, who sit third in the table going into the weekend, would need to be creatively sharp to find a way through their defence.

It is a 3pm kick-off at Anfield, and Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 25 Premier League games kicking off at that time on a Saturday (W22 D3) since a 2-0 loss at Hull in February 2017.

The Reds' last such loss at home was against West Ham in August 2015 under Brendan Rodgers (W18 D5 since at Anfield).

Southampton, for all Klopp's praise, have been pushovers on the road by most standards, though they managed a shock goalless draw at Manchester City in September. They have lost 13 of their 17 Premier League away games in 2021 (W2 D2), conceding 43 goals in this run (2.5 per game).

Jurgen Klopp marvelled over a Thiago Alcantara "thunderbolt" but felt Liverpool were somewhat fortunate to beat Porto 2-0 in the Champions League.

Klopp rung the changes for Wednesday's clash at Anfield, with the Reds already through to the round of 16 as Group B winners.

Porto had their chances and were made to pay for their profligacy when Thiago fired home a sublime long-range first-time finish in the second half before Mohamed Salah clinically took his goal tally for the season to 17.

Thiago has endured a frustrating start to his Reds career, but he showed outstanding technique to get off the mark for the season and pulled the strings in the middle of the park alongside Champions League debutant Tyler Morton.

Klopp said of the Spain international's world-class finish: "We had bigger chances in the game than that. Incredible. 

"I see that in training, I know he has the technique to do it, but you don't always hit a thunderbolt like that. We needed some moments, some luck, they had big chances on the counter-attack."

Klopp gave key men a rest with qualification already assured and the Liverpool manager expects a stronger showing against Southampton in the Premier League this weekend.

He said: "We could have lost this tonight. We were lucky in moments, yes. We have moments when we're not cool to play against, true, but I didn't expect that tonight.

"I didn't expect a ruthless pressing machine, we grew into the game and that's what I am happy about. We have to play better against Southampton as they are a machine."

The German added: "We had lots to think about, who is injured. who hasn't played, who needs a rest.

"No one felt like they needed a rest as [playing] Saturday-Wednesday the boys are used to that, but it's about the games coming up, so we needed the boys in a rhythm. It all worked out. No injuries, all good."

Liverpool have won all five Champions League matches this season, while Porto remain second ahead of a decisive final group game at home to Atletico Madrid in a fortnight.

Milan, who face Liverpool at San Siro in their last group match, and Atleti are just a point behind Porto after the Serie A side beat the LaLiga champions 1-0.

Thiago Alcantara's sublime long-range strike set Liverpool on their way to a 2-0 Champions League win over Porto at Anfield.

The Reds had already qualified as Group B winners with two matches to spare, so teenager Tyler Morton made his Champions League debut as Jurgen Klopp rung the changes.

Liverpool maintained their perfect record in Europe this season despite being without key men, Thiago scoring his first goal of the season in style with a magnificent second-half finish.

Mohamed Salah added a second as Porto were made to pay for missed opportunities, leaving them facing a decisive final group match against Atletico Madrid in the battle for a place in the round of 16 along with Liverpool.

Porto should have had an early lead when Otavio somehow failed to hit the target with the goal gaping after Luis Diaz showed great pace to burst away and unselfishly set him up.

The Primeira Liga leaders had a let-off when goalkeeper Diogo Costa's poor attempted clearance struck Sadio Mane on the head and fell nicely for Salah, but the prolific forward could not apply the finish.

Porto lost captain Pepe to an injury before Mane had a goal disallowed for offside in a first half that saw Sergio Conceicao's side pose a threat without having a cutting edge.

Mateus Uribe almost capitalised on slack Reds defending when he spun sharply in the penalty area and drilled a right-foot shot narrowly wide as Porto continued to probe after the break.

Thiago made them pay for their profligacy seven minutes into second half, firing into the bottom-right corner from 25 yards out with a stunning first-time drive after Porto failed to clear an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain free-kick.

Takumi Minamino had a goal ruled out for offside, but Salah doubled Liverpool's lead when he took a pass from Jordan Henderson and surged inside before finding the bottom-right corner with his left foot to take his tally for the season to 17.

Liverpool playmaker Thiago Alcantara has not considered a return to Barcelona, insisting he is "100 per cent' happy with his choice to move to Anfield.

Thiago has not had it easy with injuries since his transfer to Liverpool from Bayern Munich in 2020.

The Spain international contracted COVID-19 shortly after his arrival, before suffering an injury due to a tackle from Everton's Richarlison during his full debut in October last year.

He played just 24 league games last season, starting 20 of them, scoring once.

More niggling injury issues have restricted the 30-year-old to eight appearances across all competitions so far this term. However, he does seem to be rediscovering something close to his best form, at least from a creative standpoint.

Per 90 minutes played, Thiago creates on average 2.2 chances, tied with Mohamed Salah for third place in Liverpool's squad behind Trent Alexander-Arnold (3.2) and Konstantinos Tsimikas (2.7), while 305 of his 345 attempted passes have found a team-mate (an 88.4 per cent accuracy).

Following Xavi taking over from Ronald Koeman at Barca, however, there had been reports linking Thiago with a return to his former club, with the Blaugrana's new coach reportedly keen to reunite with his old team-mate.

Thiago, though, says he is perfectly happy at Anfield.

"As always, I am a guy who plays football," he told a news conference ahead of Liverpool's Champions League meeting with Porto on Wednesday.

"I am not focused on the rumours, I am focused on the duty I have with my team, the years that I have on the contract and I just want to know about this new adventure that I have here in the Premier League, trying to win all the trophies that I can with this team."

"One hundred per cent I made the right choice, the right move," he added when asked if he had any doubts over his move to the Premier League due to the amount of injuries he has sustained.

"The injuries stop the frequency to play, and to know how the team performs on the pitch.

"You can watch football and all the time it's awesome but putting it into practice is even better. It's a pity football has [injuries] but it's part of football, part of life, when we are fit we have to put in as high performances as we can.

"I think the first year was very interrupted because of the COVID situation, injury. I had a quick adaptation. We struggled last season, for many reasons.

"This year, you know much better your team-mates, the runs that they make, the way they prefer to receive the ball, the way they defend, how they attack. To me the most important thing is to try to win in the way we want to win."

Thiago has collected four LaLiga titles, seven Bundesliga crowns and three Champions League winners' medals across a glittering career, working under some of Europe's top coaches, including Carlo Ancelotti, Pep Guardiola, Hansi Flick and, now, Jurgen Klopp.

"First of all, I had the luck to play with great players, great teams. I remember the time with Pep was different to Ancelotti and time with Tito [Vilanova] was different to Pep also," he said when asked to compare playing under Guardiola and Klopp. 

"With these two coaches [Guardiola and Klopp] we can see, they both have the same charisma. Also, they have the group in their hands, they make them perform better. The similarities are there. 

"The difference is how the teams play. One is much more possession. It's great both are doing what they want in the greatest way football can bring."

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