COMMENT By Emma Sanders

Liverpool will kick-start an important period in the Premier League when they face Southampton on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are currently just one point clear at the top of the table but the next six fixtures could see them extend their lead and consolidate their impressive start to the season.

The Reds came through a gruelling opening period which saw them take on Arsenal, Leicester City, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United within their first 10 fixtures.

They took seven points off their London rivals and have only been beaten once in the league so far this season by Burnley in the second game.

Liverpool’s rivals all face each other in the next six weeks but Liverpool only play two teams in the top ten between now and mid-December so must take the opportunity to extend their lead at the top.

First up is Southampton on Saturday and it is possibly their most challenging game in the next six fixtures so if the Reds can record a victory it will send out a strong message to their rivals.

They have two homes clashes against Sunderland and West Ham to follow, as well as trips to Bournemouth and Middlesbrough where they will undoubtedly be favourites.

A league cup quarter-final clash against Leeds breaks up their Premier League fixtures but all-in-all, Liverpool have an opportunity to record some valuable points before Christmas.

Six of the last seven Premier League champions were all top at Christmas, with only Liverpool failing to take advantage of their lead in the 2013-14 season.

The Reds also choked in 2008 when Rafa Benitez’ team were in poised position ahead of the new year so it’s vital Liverpool go into 2017 with a commanding lead.

If they can get 13 points from a possible 15 in their next five league fixtures, they will go into the Merseyside derby on 19th December brimming with confidence as their rivals continue to battle it out in the coming weeks.

In other Liverpool news, the club must offer this play-maker a new contract in January as they are best poised to keep hold of him amid interest from a number of clubs.