Pitchside

Three reasons Liverpool will beat Southampton this weekend

Pitchside Europe

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The stat-heads at Squawka think Liverpool's match with Southampton on Saturday evening is a foregone conclusion, and here's why....

Sturridge and Suarez

We might as well start with the obvious: Daniel Sturridge is in ridiculously good goalscoring form, while Luis Suarez is the best player in the Premier League.

The Uruguayan hasn't been hitting the back of the net with as much regularity of late, but he still has more goals than games played this season. In any case, he's averaging three chances created per match and has managed four assists in his last six games, thus making him the joint leading assister with nine for the campaign—the same as team-mate Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

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Sturridge, meanwhile, has rocketed to second place in the scoring charts with 18 in 19 this season, showing incredible consistency to net in his last eight Premier League games in a row.

The No. 15 averages 55% of his shots on target and has also chipped in with 23 chances created this season.

Recent Form

Southampton will be pleased with their season no matter the outcome at the weekend, but they have tailed off somewhat since the festive period.

In fact, since their win at Cardiff on Boxing Day, Southampton have won only three and taken 12 points from nine games.

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In their last six league games they have created an average of 13.7 chances per game, compared to Liverpool's 14.8 over the same time, and while both teams have conceded seven goals apiece in those matches, Liverpool far outweigh Southampton's scoring ability with 17 goals to nine.

There are 17 points and five league places between the two teams at present, while Southampton (20) have only won one more point at home this season than Liverpool (19) have away.

Absent Stars

Ranking by Performance Score, centre-back Dejan Lovren has been one of Southampton's star players this season. However, the Croatian defender has been missing for the last four matches and with his 11 defensive actions per game he would be a significant miss, if he were to miss the game.

Furthermore, even if the Saints dominate possession, they will have plenty to be wary about against Liverpool's counter-attacking threat given the pace in the final third that Rodgers' team possesses.

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Victor Wanyama is also a doubt and would be a big miss in midfield against the likes of Jordan Henderson, who has created 49 chances this season, which is the third-highest in Liverpool's squad, from his offensive-minded central midfield role.

Saints have the squad to replace Wanyama with an established player such as Steven Davis or Jack Cork alongside Morgan Schneiderlin, but neither offer quite the athleticism or the defensive awareness to control those dangerous runs from deep that Henderson is able to make.

Liverpool have been opened up at times by Mauricio Pochettino's men, but they will have confidence that they have the armoury in place to do significant damage themselves when the two sides meet this time.

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