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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Jurgen Klopp hails 'cool' win over Southampton, criticises Liverpool's performance

Mohamed Salah on target after Wesley Hoedt own goal and Joel Matip header puts Liverpool firmly in control against Southampton

Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring Liverpool's third goal against Southampton. Reuters
Mohamed Salah celebrates after scoring Liverpool's third goal against Southampton. Reuters

Mohamed Salah scored his third Premier League goal of the season as Liverpool cruised to a 3-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

Xherdan Shaqiri was handed a first Premier League start since joining from Stoke City over the summer and the Swiss international was instrumental in two of Liverpool's goals as Jurgen Klopp's men recorded a sixth successive win to start the season.

It was Shaqiri's cross that was inadvertently turned into his own net by Southampton defender Wesley Hoedt before the recalled Joel Matip powered home a Trent Alexander-Arnold corner to double the hosts' advantage.

Salah, who operated in a more central striking area, then scored his first goal since netting against Brighton and Hove Albion in August when the Egyptian forward bundled home a rebound after Shaqiri's sizzling free kick hit the crossbar.

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Including last week's 3-2 Uefa Champions League win over Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool have won all of their seven matches this season, surpassing their previous best beginning to a campaign, set in 1961/ 62, when they won their first six.

The Merseysiders sit top of the Premier League with a 100 per cent record, although Chelsea can match them should they win away at West Ham United on Sunday.

Though happy with the result, Klopp said the number of changes to his starting XI had a negative effect on Liverpool's performance.

"The result is really cool and the performance could have been better," Klopp said.

"The changes cost us as I changed the system. Xherdan Shaqiri was influential and Joel Matip was too, but our organisation was a problem.

"You could see that with the communication on the pitch, but we changed back to a system we are used to.

"A clean sheet is very important and staying concentrated in an intense period is difficult.

"Joel Matip was spot on and the full backs had outstanding work rate and I liked what I saw. What I didn't like today was my fault."

Though the sight of Salah's name on the scoresheet after six games without a goal and Shaqiri showing he can add an extra dimension to Liverpool's attack from wide areas, a shut out against an admittedly toothless Southampton - a fourth clean sheet in six league games for Klopp's side - should offer Klopp enough encouragement that Liverpool look best equipped to challenge champions Manchester City and win a first league title since 1990.

"We have won at the moment and we feel good, we have a clean sheet and scored three goals," said Matip, who was preferred ahead of Joe Gomez to partner Virgil van Dijk in the heart of the Liverpool defence.

"Clean sheets give is confidence for the following games. We want to concede as few goals as possible."

Liverpool's afternoon was soured, though, by a rib injury to Van Dijk that forced the world's most expensive defender off early in the second period ahead of a demanding run of fixtures.

Klopp's men face Chelsea and City in their next two league games, with a Champions League trip to Napoli sandwiched in between.