1. Suarez and Sturridge:
We’ll start with the obvious: the (rather unimaginatively named) SAS partnership which is ripping through Premier League defences with a ruthless efficiency. Not since the halcyon days of Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres have Liverpool carried such clout up front. Suarez has six goals in six games so far this season, while Sturridge has 11 in 14. Their seemingly telepathic understanding will ensure Liverpool do not lack for goals provided that both players stay fit and free of disciplinary problems (that means you, Luis).
Though they perhaps do not quite have the quality of City’s David Silva, Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil or Chelsea’s Oscar and Eden Hazard, Liverpool do have a plethora of players capable of providing service to the front two. In particular, Philippe Coutinho, who returned from injury to play the second half of the match against Arsenal at the weekend, has established himself as a vital cog in Liverpool’s midfield, capable of threading passes to Suarez and generally keeping the Reds ticking over. Throw in Iago Aspas, currently injured but expected back by December, as well as the likes of Raheem Sterling and the ever-productive Steven Gerrard, and Liverpool have a creativity which has been lacking in recent seasons.
3. Brendan Rodgers:
Despite a somewhat questionable taste in match-day suits, Liverpool’s manager has barely put a foot wrong during his 17 months at Anfield. This time last season, the Reds had taken 11 points from their first 10 games. This season they have taken 20 from 10. Out the door have gone the likes of Stewart Downing, Jay Spearing and Jonjo Shelvey (not to mention Andy Carroll), while the astute signings of Simon Mignolet, Kolo Toure and Victor Moses have added a sprinkling of quality in key areas. And fundamentally, Rodgers has got Liverpool playing some of their most attractive, attacking football in years.
4. Rivals’ struggles:
This season is already providing one of the most open title fights in years. A seemingly unbeatable Chelsea shattered their own illusions of omnipotence with a 2-0 walloping at Newcastle, Manchester City have already contrived to lose to both Cardiff City and Aston Villa, while Manchester United are nowhere near the levels of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, though they will undoubtedly improve under David Moyes. Tottenham are drawing games for fun and Arsenal, though leaders at the moment, have a nasty habit of imploding when the going gets tough. At this stage, it is impossible to see a runaway leader.
5. No distractions:
It is an old argument, and sure, Liverpool fans would probably prefer their team were taking on the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Champions League, but the fact that Liverpool have nothing to distract them from the league is a huge positive. While their rivals balance energy-sapping trips to remote corners of the continent with domestic games just a few days later, the Reds can preserve their energy for the weekend’s game. That should help keep injuries to a minimum and maintain momentum in the league.
image: © ekilby