Manchester City v Liverpool: Starting XI 'can compete' with the best, says Glen Johnson

The table toppers face their toughest test of the season on Boxing Day

Defender Glen Johnson insists Liverpool have a first-choice XI which is a match for any of their bigger-spending rivals.

The Barclays Premier League leaders face tough trips to Manchester City on Boxing Day and, three days later, Chelsea - both clubs who have far greater financial resources than the Merseysiders.

However, in addition to being top of the table, the Reds have the league's leading scorer in Luis Suarez spearheading their attack.

The Uruguay international has 10 goals in his last four matches, has failed to score in only one of his last seven appearances and since the start of last season has scored 49 goals in 57 games in all competitions and 42 in 45 league fixtures.

He requires only one to become the first Liverpool player to score 20 league goals in the top flight before the new year since Jack Balmer in 1946-47.

Liverpool also have fellow striker Daniel Sturridge and captain Steven Gerrard to come back from injury in the next month and although that will not come soon enough for the tests against their top-four rivals, Johnson is confident they will be competitive for two crucial matches.

"We take each game as it comes but if we can go to White Hart Lane and perform like we did there (winning 5-0) is no reason why we can't win these games," he told Press Association Sport.

"In terms of the starting XI I think we can compete. It is just getting it right on the day and everyone performing to the best we can.

"If we can do that we can cause anyone problems, it doesn't matter how much money they spend."

If Liverpool have a weakness it is when they have to look outside their primary first-choice side for replacements.

Young right-back Jon Flanagan is currently playing on the left of the defence because of injury to Jose Enrique and the unsuitability of loan signing Aly Cissokho while they are light in central midfield.

Johnson accepts they do not have the numbers other teams may have but believes there is a greater team spirit in their smaller unit.

"We all know we need much more than our starting XI, I think we have some great players around the squad that know that," he added.

"With some clubs anyone who is not starting may get the hump, not train well and throw their toys out a bit.

"Whereas we have got good lads and good professionals around who people realise they have to wait their turn.

"But we have been using a few different formations so it gives a few people an opportunity to play and because everyone knows they are on the verge of playing it keeps the squad tighter together rather than having the same XI every single week."

Liverpool's progress to the top has surprised many and doubts persist whether they can maintain it throughout a whole campaign.

But the last four sides to be top on Christmas Day have gone on to win the title - Liverpool were the last not to do it in 2008 when they finished runners-up to Manchester United.

The changes manager Brendan Rodgers has implemented since taking over from club icon Kenny Dalglish in the summer of 2012 have come to fruition this campaign, having shown an upturn in fortunes from January.

With many of Liverpool's rivals - City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Everton and now Tottenham - having changed their manager for this season Johnson feels they have a slight advantage.

"Usually when clubs get a new manager the first season is not what everyone wants. Usually it comes out more in the second seasons," he added.

"It is a transition period for a lot of teams so maybe we have the extra year on a few and the way things are going at the moment if we can keep taking things week by week I think we can be dangerous."

PA

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
News
newsChester Zoo have revealed their newest members
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape