An impressive if not sparkling start to the season has seen Liverpool rise to the summit of the Premier League table. A comprehensive victory over Manchester United last time out has gone a long way to dispel the fears of those that thought a resurgence would be a long time coming.
Liverpool are a club famed for their European exploits, and therefore to suffer the ignominy of European exile will be a painful experience for many this season. A club that have been on the decline following season after season of mediocrity, is it dangerous to underestimate the sleeping giants of English football?
Too many have been quick to discount the red half of Liverpool as Premier League also-rans this year, with many seeing them as possible contenders for best of the rest. I think this has played well into the hands of the Merseyside club.
Overshadowed by the extravagant spending of clubs like Manchester City and Spurs, Brendan Rodgers has gone about his transfer overhaul both shrewdly and quietly. Quick to offload the deadwood of previous failed regimes, the departures of Shelvey, Carroll and Downing are as much a masterstroke as the clubs various acquisitions this summer. Keen to avoid the upheaval caused by mass change, Rodgers has gone about his reshuffle in both a precise and methodical manner.
Long gone are the days of knee jerk panic and short-termism, instead Rodgers has looked towards a certain style of footballer with the onus heavily on youth. This has manifested itself in a slick attack minded passing game that has looked to promise so much without perhaps delivering the goals it should. A resurgent Henderson along with the youthful flair of Aspas and Coutinho has already seen the backlines of Villa, United and Stoke terrorised this season.
I count myself amongst those who tipped Liverpool to struggle without the talismanic Luis Suarez, but few could have foreseen the meteoric rise to prominence of Daniel Sturridge as the centrepiece of the Liverpool attack. We may only be three games in but many are already touting the Englishman as the player to build the national side around going forward.
A week or so ago you may well have been right to suggest this squad just simply didn’t have the depth to maintain its form. If you discount the sensationalised Ozil deal, Liverpool were probably the most successful club in the last few days of the window. The addition of Mamadou Sakho is a standout buy for me, £16m may seem like a hefty price but the Frenchman offers both international and Champions League experience which may just be priceless to Liverpool going forward. Add to this the captures of Victor Moses and Tiago Ilori and you get an idea of the depth Rodgers has added to a squad that could previously be criticized as being a bit bare.
So how seriously should we be taking Liverpool?
I think a title tilt is for the delusional this season but comparing the club to those in and around them a Champions League berth is certainly not out of the question. For me the battle to dine at the top table of European football this year is between four clubs looking at two places. To argue Liverpool are the best placed is not as unreasonable as it might sound.
Arsenal fans are still probably celebrating the Ozil deal like it’s a trophy, but for me they are simply papering over the cracks. A side that desperately needs a destructive midfielder and some defensive cover going out to buy an advanced playmaker just smacks of a misguided transfer approach. Spurs by contrast have spent big but spent well. Clearly success isn’t going to be immediate and a certain teething period could well benefit a more settled squad like Liverpool’s. Then we come to United, a club who appear to be embroiled in a desperate political vacuum that only looks like worsening before getting better. I actually believe their struggle against Liverpool last time out may well be a sign of things to come.
So yes if you haven’t already, take Liverpool seriously. If their early season form isn’t enough to convince you, just look at their squad strength compared to their nearest challengers. Of course it is easy to sensationalise Liverpool’s start, but for me it really isn’t a fluke.
For too long this great bastion of English football has been resigned to the doldrums. Is this the season for the sleeping giants to finally awaken from their stupor?