February 20, 2015

Europe will be on everybody's mind when Southampton host Liverpool on Sunday.

It's seventh versus eighth going into the weekend's fixtures, with both clubs on the coattails of Manchester United and West Ham United in the current Europa League qualification positions.

And for Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool (12-8-8) in particular, the Europa League is very firmly the club's central focus.The Reds beat Manchester United 3-1 on aggregate to reach the quarterfinals of the Europa League on Thursday - a confidence-boosting result in what the Liverpool manager had described as "the mother of all games".

"The problem with confidence is it is like a little flower: if you step on it, it is away in a second - it is much more difficult to let it grow than to let it die," Klopp said. "It is not only about confidence, it is more about feeling more and more trust in our way of play.

"There is a real development (in Liverpool's counter-pressing) and that is more important than confidence, because the players have quality and we always have an offensive line-up so it is important we feel better in this style of play."

But a looming test of that fragile confidence awaits, as Liverpool were drawn against Klopp's former club Borussia Dortmund on Friday in the Europa League quarterfinals.

Sunday's hosts Southampton (12-8-10) go into the weekend's game above Liverpool in the table on goal difference and on a high after an impressive performance in last week's 2-1 win at Stoke City.

Nothing could separate Liverpool and Southampton when they met at Anfield in the reverse fixture, but the Reds dished out a thrashing when they met in the League Cup - a result the Saints players have not forgotten.

"We lost 6-1 in the League Cup, which is unbelievable," midfielder Jordy Clasie said. "I don't think I've ever lost by so much in a game. We have to do it better on Sunday and stay more compact than before.

"It was the worst night for everybody that was a Saints fan and also for the players. Hopefully that will never happen again. Sunday is a big game for us. Yes, they are behind us, but they've played two games less than us. We need to win if we want to play around that position."

Southampton will be without striker Charlie Austin for the fixture due to a hamstring injury, while Jay Rodriguez remains out.

Jordan Henderson and Alberto Moreno are both doubts for Liverpool, while Lucas Leiva and Danny Ings are unavailable with thigh and knee injuries, respectively.

Klopp is searching for the first four-game winning streak of his brief Premier League career, and a tally of 13 goals in his team's last four away games will give him confidence.

Southampton, however, have lost just one of their last six at St Mary's.

Striker Graziano Pelle scored a brace for the Saints against Stoke last weekend, ending a run of 12 appearances without a goal, but only once in his Southampton career has the Italian striker scored in consecutive matches.

Liverpool forward Christian Benteke is one goal shy of reaching 50 in his Premier League career.

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