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Liverpool-Southampton Preview

AP - Sports

Liverpool will be looking to further validate their status as title challengers as they travel to the south coast to play Southampton at St Mary's Stadium on Saturday.

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool (17-5-5) are unbeaten in eight games and have smashed four past local rivals Everton and five past title challengers Arsenal in that run of excellent results. Even free-scoring Manchester City saw their goal tally trumped by the rampant Reds last weekend, courtesy of a high-octane 4-3 victory over Swansea. Despite being exposed repeatedly on defence, Rodgers insists his team will continue to play the same style of football for the remainder of the campaign.

"When we attack and score goals it's because of what we do as a team," said Rodgers. "We conceded disappointing goals last weekend but ultimately, at this stage of the season, it's about winning. We've put in some outstanding team performances over the last 4-6 weeks and been so exciting to watch going forward.

"We've scored 70 goals and we're the highest goalscorers because we're building a platform for the team to go forward and play. If we're defending it's because we haven't pressed the ball well enough at the top of the field. Ultimately we won the game last weekend - and, let's not forget, we were playing a very good team."

Southampton (10-9-8) have been unable to maintain the extraordinary level from their start to the season and have dropped to ninth in the table - 11 points behind fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur - with just three wins in their last nine league games. However, centre-back Dejan Lovren believes a top-six finish and a possible Europa League place for next season is still a realistic target.

"We are really happy with where we are right now but I think we can do much better and we have a lot of games still," said Lovren. "We want to finish in the best position that we can so I hope it will be the sixth place, for the Europa League. That would be an amazing place for us and we can achieve it.

"We need to win, we need to take every point, every possible point now, for the next few games but I think and I believe, like the others, that we can."

Southampton have injury doubts over Jos Hooiveld (eye), while Liverpool are without Lucas Leiva (knee), Mamadou Sakho (hamstring) and Jose Enrique (knee).

Liverpool lead the league with 28 goals in their 13 road matches. However, the Reds' defensive record on the road has been poor, with only struggling Norwich, Stoke, Cardiff and Fulham conceding more goals than Liverpool's 23.

The Saints ran out 1-0 winners when these teams met at Anfield in September, with Lovren scoring the goal shortly after half-time. Southampton will be looking for a third straight league win over Rodgers' side, having also won 3-1 when the teams met at St Mary's in March of last season.

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