Brendan Rodgers eyes consistency in Liverpool's quest for improvement
The Anfield club face fellow pace-setters Arsenal this weekend
The word is that this season's Premier League could be the most open for some time. Liverpool's manager, Brendan Rodgers, confirmed that his team believe they can be part of the conversation. If the first few games of any campaign are regarded as little more than idle chit-chat, the falling leaves, changing clocks and advent of November all signify that serious discussion can begin.
After this weekend's fixtures, teams will have played 10 games, and the most important of them brings together two of the top three in Arsenal and Liverpool, both of whom have benefited from a comparatively gentle introduction to the season.
Beating Manchester United 1-0 early on offered an indication of Liverpool's potential, which they have confirmed against lesser opposition, culminating in the most mature performance to date last Saturday, when Luis Suarez scored a hat-trick in the 4-1 evisceration of West Bromwich Albion.
"Saturday won't be the be-all and end-all in terms of whether we can make the top four or not," Rodgers said, "but I think what we have shown so far is that we are going to be in the conversation. It is a good benchmark for us. We have shown that we have quality in the team, that we've got a winning mentality, which is important, and that we can consistently bring that to the table."
The words "consistency" and "improvement" already feature strongly in the Liverpool manager's media briefings and will continue to do so, his belief being that one will inevitably lead to the other.
His team could hardly have been more consistent than winning their first three games 1-0 with Daniel Sturridge scoring every goal. They have drawn 2-2 in potentially tricky visits to Newcastle and Rodgers' former club Swansea, and seen off the bottom markers Sunderland and Crystal Palace by 3-1.
The one glitch was to lose at Anfield to improving Southampton, but fears that last season's spate of disappointing home results might recur were eased by the West Bromwich result.
"We're putting a marker down that we're going to be consistent," Rodgers added. "I think we can only get better and improve. We have a lot of young players who are developing and improving and that goes for the front two. Daniel is only 24. And Luis Suarez, everyone talks about his goals and his work rate but I've seen an improvement in his footballing ability and maturity this year. I believe we are in a good moment but we won't get carried away."
There would be a strong temptation to do so on Merseyside – 23 years without a title – and elsewhere if Liverpool, who have Philippe Coutinho available again, win at Arsenal and depose them as League leaders. "They are a very good team and the top team at the moment because they are there on points," Rodgers said. "Arsenal Football Club is very much Arsène Wenger, on and off the field. He's one I respect, who changed the landscape with his ideas and methods of work. He's been trying to win trophies and I'm sure he'll see this as a chance to do so."
Another chance went out of the Emirates window, however, with a home defeat in the Capital One Cup, and Rodgers appeared to side with those who believe that Chelsea and Manchester City have greater strength in depth: "Chelsea don't have an A and B team. They just have a big team from which they pick 11 players. If you look at that team [at Arsenal] the other night, that starting line-up would have a chance of winning the league as well. We have a long way to go to get to that position. Manchester City have a squad full of players as well. It's very competitive this year and we're fighting to be in the race."
Third place and a best start for five years suggests the 18-time champions should have a more authoritative say in the outcome than for some time.
Latest in Sport
Arsenal are so close to winning the Premier League, but sometimes Arsene Wenger holds them back, says Jamie Carragher
Arsenal transfer news: Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini set for showdown summer talks over future
David Beckham reveals secret of his success: I 'stayed in to watch Match of the Day' rather than go out with friends on a Saturday night
Real Madrid vs Juventus preview: Juventus know they must attack to match past European glory
Two new members of Floyd Mayweather's The Money Team blag their way into entourage to celebrate to celebrate with Justin Bieber
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally