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25th Oct 2015

Liverpool v Southampton – 5 things we learned from Jurgen Klopp’s first home league game

Tom Victor

It’s still early days as far as Jurgen Klopp’s Anfield reign is concerned, but we’re already starting to notice a few things from his Liverpool side.

Klopp’s team followed draws against Tottenham and Rubin with another tie, but there are some positives to take despite Sadio Mane’s late equaliser.

Here’s what we learned from another tough test for the German.

Despite what some have claimed, Christian Benteke can work in this Liverpool side

When Jurgen Klopp arrived, the voices saying Christian Benteke wasn’t right for Liverpool got even louder, but the critics might keep a low profile after he almost helped the new manager to his first Liverpool win.

The former Aston Villa man is a different type of striker to Daniel Sturridge and former Anfield hero Luis Suarez, but variety could be what Liverpool need.

He is more mobile than some give him credit for, while Liverpool’s players are more than capable of adapting to a more percentage style when the situation calls for it.

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We can’t judge Klopp until his strikers are at full fitness

With Danny Ings a long-term absentee and Daniel Sturridge not fit enough for the squad to face the Saints, Liverpool were left without too many options.

A fully-fit Christian Benteke would surely have started, and contributed well from the bench, but with the Belgian still recovering from injury his compatriot Divock Origi offered very little indeed.

For all the enterprise in midfield, Origi will realistically be nowhere near the first team if and when everyone is available. Only then can we see the true extent of what Klopp can do.

Virgil van Dijk shows there’s value to be found in the transfer market

It’s unusual for a team to take positives from an opponent’s performance, but Liverpool can be uncharacteristically happy with the display of Van Dijk.

The Dutch international arrived from Celtic for just £11.5m, and has taken little time filling the void left by Toby Alderweireld choosing Spurs over Southampton after his loan spell.

There’s no way the transfer committee can point to a lack of talent available at the right price, and Klopp can remind them of this.

It’s hard to see how Mamadou Sakho was ignored by Rodgers for so long

Sakho is far from the perfect centre-back, but he is an upgrade on Dejan Lovren and then another upgrade on that.

The Frenchman was given a rough ride by Graziano Pelle but gave as good as he got, helping keep the Italian off the scoresheet.

What’s more, goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has looked more composed without walking disaster Lovren in front of him – Southampton’s slow start can probably be put down to their players remembering how much Liverpool paid for the Croatian and laughing.

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We’ve been too quick to write off the traditional target man

Even in fluid systems, there can be space for an old-fashioned number nine to offer that something a little different.

We saw it with Andy Carroll for West Ham against Chelsea and with Benteke for Liverpool, while Pelle has provided a similar outlet throughout the season.

And with the wide-ranging criticism for Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney – a very different footballer to the aforementioned trio – it’s safe to say there’s a place for the centre-forward style that some have been eager to dismiss.

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