Even though Liverpool compete after Arsenal and Chelsea in their respective Premier League clashes this weekend, thereby potentially failing to gain any ground in the race for the crown this season should the London duo both register victories, the Anfield club can punctuate their contender status with a triumph over Southampton, says Sky Sports pundit and former Reds midfielder Jamie Redknapp.
The 40-year-old, who claimed a League Cup winners medal in 1995 with Liverpool, bases his logic on how tough it is to escape St Mary's Stadium with a positive result, as the Saints boast a decent home record, losing only thrice in the division thus far this season.
'Liverpool's trip to Southampton will give us a real indication of what Brendan Rodgers' side can achieve in the final part of the season,' commented Redknapp.
'Of the title contenders, only Chelsea have gone to St Mary's and won, so if Liverpool get three points there on Saturday we'll have to say they're not just capable of finishing in the top four but they might just surprise everyone and win the Premier League as well.'
He added: 'That would be an incredible turn around for a team which in the past ten seasons have finished an average of 22 points behind the champions.'
Part of that turn around, says Redknapp, is down to the coaching achievements of manager Brendan Rodgers, who is getting the best out of an attack-happy side 'full of pace' due to Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling; all of whom are 'performing fantastically well.'
Redknapp's caveat over appraising Liverpool, though, is: 'Their defence.'
Embellishing, he said: 'Only Newcastle in the top 11 have conceded more than Liverpool's 35 against. However, they give themselves a chance because they score so many early goals.
'They really start out fast, blitz teams - and the 46 goals they've scored in the first-half of games this season is a new Premier League record. Southampton are going to have to contend with that on Saturday.'
Offering his tactical assessment, Redknapp continued: 'They are going to want to play a high line and press but if they do that they are going to leave a lot of space in behind for Sturridge and Sterling to run in behind. It will be fascinating to see how that tactical battle unfolds.
'I'm going for Liverpool just to edge it 2-1 because of the way they're playing at the moment; their confidence is high and they are capable of picking Southampton off to get revenge for their 1-0 defeat at Anfield earlier in the season.'
Liverpool are currently fourth with 56 points after 27 match-days and, if Redknapp's prediction turns out to be true, they will leapfrog Manchester City to claim third place at least as Manuel Pellegrini's men are absent from the Premier League fixture list this weekend due to their League Cup final clash against Sunderland.
image: © ekilby