Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has hailed his entire squad for contributing to the team’s incredible scoring record this season. A 4-3 victory over Swansea City took Liverpool above Manchester City as the top scorers in the Premier League, with 70 goals from their 27 matches.
Luis Suarez, with 23 goals, and Daniel Sturridge, who heads into the clash with Southampton on Saturday having scored in eight successive Premier League games, have grabbed the headlines this season. But Rodgers believes that it is a team effort.
“It's all about the collective," he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. "I think the goals we've scored and how strong our attack has been is about the entire squad. We've put in some outstanding performances over the last couple of weeks and have been exciting to watch going forward."
Liverpool’s record in front of goal this season is a far cry from the situation Rodgers encountered upon taking over at Anfield in 2012. The previous season Liverpool scored just 47 goals in their 38 matches, only the 11th best record in the division.
“When I came in here, I had a task of improving the movement going forward and that has been achieved and we will continue to work on it," he explained. “As the squad grows and gets stronger, all aspects of the team's play will improve. We will continue to work increasingly hard in training every day and do remedial work after games.”
One of the aspects of Liverpool’s play that Rodgers would likely want to see improve is their defending. While they have been thrilling to watch, the 4-3 win over Swansea was evident of the side’s fragility at the other end. Only one team in the top 11 in the Premier League has conceded more goals than the Merseysiders. Liverpool could be boosted in that regard at St Mary’s, with Mamadou Sakho back in training and set to face a late fitness test. Another player who would help make the side more resolute, Lucas Leiva, has also returned to training but is not yet ready for a return.
Rodgers’ opposite number, Mauricio Pochettino should head into the contest with confidence having come out on top in his two previous meetings with Liverpool, both at Anfield. Still, a 3-1 defeat at West Ham last weekend has left Southampton in ninth place in the league. With the club already essentially safe from relegation, yet with 11 points separating them from a European place, many have suggested that they no longer have anything to play for this season. Pochettino, though, unsurprisingly refutes that suggestion.
“Our motivation is always there and never changes,” he said, reports Southampton’s official website. “At 1-0 against West Ham we were unlucky to concede that goal which was clearly from offside and then it became really difficult to overturn the game, but overall we were unlucky with that game, and we were unlucky with the refereeing decisions in that game, but I think now the team is very motivated to get a positive result against Liverpool.”
“And more than anything it’s to play our way, the way we know how to, and of course, get something positive out of the game.”
Like Liverpool, Southampton have had their problems at the back this season. Their defense could also be strengthened on Saturday, though, with Pochettino revealing that key central defender Dejan Lovren has a chance of returning to the side. Victor Wanyama may also be back in action to reinforce the midfield.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League clash will kick off at 12.30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available through NBC Sports Live Extra.