After 11 league games this season Liverpool FC find themselves joint top with Chelsea, five points ahead of Man Utd and six ahead of Arsenal. This is Liverpool's best start for a good many years and has proved to a lot of doubters that maybe this year they do have what it takes to mount a serious challenge.
The major plus for this season has been that Liverpool have taken points off the other big four teams. Over the past few years Liverpool have failed to take points off the other teams around them, this has often been the difference between Liverpool fighting for first and second place rather than the third and fourth they always seem to be competing for in recent seasons.
Lets look at point A first. This season Liverpool have a much better squad than seasons past, there are more players to share the goal scoring responsibility and more importantly there are more creative, attacking players.
Albert Riera has been excellent so far since his deadline day transfer, he has brought width and his trickery and strength have been fantastic. Also, Alonso has returned to the form we saw from his first couple of seasons, and having Daniel Agger back from long term injury has been like having a new player (although Martin Skrtel when fit should play).
Point B. The belief that the team has this season is that they can win the league. This has come from the manager believing that he finally has the squad to challenge Man Utd and Chelsea for the league. The best way to judge a squad is by how many players in a teams squad would the other top four teams want—not need, but want.
Man Utd have Rooney, Tevez, Ronaldo and Ferdinand and you could argue more. Chelsea have Lampard, Carvelho, Cech and Essien(when fit). Arsenal have Fabregas and Adebayor.
Before you could only say the same for Liverpool of Gerrard and Torres, but now you can add Reina, who has cut out the mistakes he used to make and passed Cech as the best keeper in the premier league. And Skrtel, who after a shaky first couple of games, has been outstanding with his power and no nonsense brand of defending.
Point C is last season when Pako Aysteran left the club Rafa did not replace him and the backroom staff was short of somebody for Rafa to bounce ideas off. This season has seen the return of Sammy Lee who—let's not let his short time in charge of Bolton cloud our judgement—is a quality coach who brings the experience of winning three titles with Liverpool as well as his unbelievable enthusiasm for the game.
The other big change in the backroom is the arrival of Mauricio Pellegrino as a replacement for Alex Miller as first team coach. This is a man who Rafa has a very good working relationship with from their time at Valencia and during Pellegrino's short time at Liverpool as a player. He can often be seen with a clip board giving substitutes their orders as they prepare to come on.
The other big change is in the players, for years now the club has had Gerrard as the captain and the player who play's at the level everybody aspires to, And Carragher did most of the shouting on the pitch.
Now to add to that Robbie Keane is a player who anybody who plays with him will always mention that he gives as much off the pitch to a team as on. He is the man who will not let heads drop, the man who will make sure the young lads feel part of the squad and adds the balance Liverpool need between the off field characters of Gerrard and Carragher.
Finally, this season, Liverpool are joint top of both the league and their Champions league group, and they have not even started to play at 100 percent. So things look very good going into the most important part of the season with the winter schedule just about to start.
As ever YNWA