Liverpool finished seventh in the Premier League last season, some 28 points adrift of champions Manchester United. More significantly, perhaps, they ended the campaign 12 shy of fourth-placed Arsenal.
“What we need in the second year of this project is to find a great level of consistency. There is a process of getting into the top four and becoming champions and that is consistency.
I’ve loved every minute of being here and the small steps of where we want to go. But now I want to make bigger steps.”
The Reds have clearly found that consistency and currently sit in the all-important fourth position after 20 games. Whilst staying there will prove challenging, here are three reasons why I believe they have every chance of doing so:
1. Luis Suarez is playing the best football of his career
The Uruguayan international struck an impressive 23 goals in 33 top-flight starts last term. He has taken things to a whole new level this time around though, bagging 20 in just 15 Premier League appearances.
Were he to revert to his 2012/13 scoring levels, then he would still strike 13 more times. Furthermore, that figure would rise to 24 should he continue at his current rate.
Daniel Sturridge and Steven Gerrard are capable of contributing on this front as well, so the team possesses the firepower to succeed.
2. Toughest tests come at Anfield
Liverpool have already played six of the current top-eight away from home:
A trip to Old Trafford represents their toughest remaining fixture, though David Moyes’ men have been struggling on their own patch recently.
Manchester United, Tottenham and Everton are the Reds’ most likely challengers for fourth, but they each have at least three tough away days on the horizon.
3. Inexperience and inconsistency amongst their challengers
Everton have attracted plenty of praise since Roberto Martinez took up the reins, yet they have little experience of qualifying for the Champions League.
The same could be said of Tottenham, particularly with Tim Sherwood now at the helm.
Manchester United, on the other hand, know exactly what is required to succeed. They are going through a transitional period, however, and it is difficult to see them finding their best form any time soon.
You could argue that Liverpool have not dined much at the top table of European football in recent years, but that should make them hungrier than ever to get back there.