Liverpool midfielder Christian Poulsen believes Roy Hodgson's side are improving with every game, but their true level may not be reached for another four months.
The Reds returned to winning ways with a comfortable victory over West Ham United at the weekend, bouncing back immediately from the end of their six-match unbeaten run at Stoke the previous week.
With no matches against any of the current top four between now and 5 February – when they travel to Chelsea – the next few months present an ideal time to make up ground lost by their poor start to the campaign which left them mired in the relegation zone for a spell.
Despite their early problems, Liverpool are only three points behind fifth-placed Tottenham, whom they face at White Hart Lane on Sunday, and six adrift of Manchester City in fourth.
Poulsen believes, given time, they can close that gap. "I hope and I think that we will be better from game to game," he said yesterday.
"If we work hard and keep listening to the things that the boss wants to do, I'm sure that we will be a much better team when we come to the games in February and March."
The Denmark international's Liverpool career since joining from Juventus in the summer has mirrored his club's season in some respects, with a number of indifferent performances. However, the absence of injured captain Steven Gerrard and suspended Lucas Leiva against the Hammers saw the 30-year-old give his best performance yet in a red shirt.
With Gerrard out for a month and back-up midfielder Jay Spearing out of action for six weeks with a broken bone in his leg, Poulsen has the chance to earn an extended run in the team. And he is keen to make the most of it, after acknowledging his difficulties in adapting to the Premier League.
"It was good for me to play again. It has been a hard start so it was nice to be in the starting XI in an important victory," he added. "We have struggled and I have struggled to get into the team so it was nice to play.
"With Steven coming back from the national team with an injury it is important for the other players to come in. He is a big miss. When the captain is not here, we are missing the key player from our team.
"We hope he will be back quickly but the rest of the time he is away, it is up to us to pick up the points and be in a good position so when he comes back we will be even better. I got my chance and I was happy but three points was most important."
In the absence of Gerrard – who tore a hamstring in England's friendly defeat to France last week – and Lucas, Hodgson paired Poulsen with Raul Meireles – who admits he is happier playing centrally – for the first time.
The manager was certainly happy with his two central midfielders. "You could argue Steven Gerrard and Lucas have been two of our best players, but it is nice to show we are a good team and we do have a bit of strength in depth," Hodgson said. "Christian was excellent and so was Raul, they complement each other.
"Christian is a good player and I've felt sorry for him. If you can pay a price for being too honest, I think he may have done that in one or two games earlier when the team was not playing well and he has tried to do much and failed.
"But I always knew he was far from that and he showed what a good player he is. And the important thing for us is to get Raul Meireles on the ball."Reuse content