Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool defender Joel Matip: Away teams should fear Anfield

A comfortable 3-0 win over Southampton meant the Reds have scored in their last 21 home league matches.

Liverpool defender Joel Matip believes opposing teams should fear Anfield as it has now become a fortress for Jurgen Klopp’s side.

A comfortable 3-0 win over Southampton meant the Reds have scored in their last 21 home league matches – their longest run since the 23 they registered between March and August 1986.

Defensively it is equally impressive as they have not conceded a home league goal in 12-and-a-half hours, extended over eight matches – their longest sequence since a run of nine in 2006-07.

Overall, Liverpool have been beaten once in their last 34 home matches in all competitions – against West Brom in the FA Cup in January.

“I think it should always be a fear to come to Anfield as an opposing team,” said Matip, who scored his first Anfield goal on his first start since March 31.

“But we are working hard to make it as uncomfortable as possible for the opponent and we are on a good way. I think nobody enjoys to play here.”

Matip returned to the starting line-up at the expense of Joe Gomez, who was rested, but it did not affect their defensive stability against a poor Saints side.

He headed home Liverpool’s second, after Xherdan Shaqiri’s deflected cross resulted in Wesley Hoedt’s own goal, which was his first anywhere since November.

“After this long time, after this injury, it feels great to start again and to play. It was a nice feeling to be on the field 90 minutes,” added Matip, who underwent a thigh operation in April.

“Sure, it was quite a long time with the injury but now I’m fit and on a good way. I still need some time but (I’m) looking forward to the next game.

“I was not too lucky with scoring goals during my time at Liverpool but I hope that maybe this season I can score a few more goals.

“It always helps the team and helps me get self-confidence for the game.”

The result extended Liverpool’s 100 per cent start to the campaign to seven matches in all competitions.

They have accomplished that without truly hitting top form and with a relatively stable side as manager Jurgen Klopp has made few alterations to his starting line-up.

That is set to change with the Carabao Cup visit of Chelsea on Wednesday, especially as the pair meet at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League next weekend.

“Yes, it’s a surprise because of course you cannot expect it (winning seven matches), but all performances we showed so far were at least good enough to win the games,” said Klopp.

“All the different challenges with the different styles of the opponent, the boys were there. They were really in the situation and in the different games, so that’s good.”

A third defeat in six league matches leaves Southampton on five points.

Despite conceding three before half-time at Anfield, manager Mark Hughes remains optimistic about their progress.

“At 3-0 down at half-time there is a danger you go completely under and that would have damaged us more than the 3-0 performance in the first half – and we avoided that, stuck in the game and tried to do the right things,” he said.

“At the end we take a little bit of confidence from the second half.

“I’d like to think on our day, playing at the best of our ability, we can go up against the top teams and give them a better go.

“Hopefully as the season progresses we will prove that along the way.”

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