Rodgers Dodges Title Talk

Clive Brunskill

While trying to avoid any talk of Liverpool being title challengers, manager Brendan Rodgers did admit that after ten games you can begin to judge a club's season. That tenth match comes Saturday against Arsenal.

Following their strong performance against West Bromwich Albion and another three points that take Liverpool's total to 20 with the season nearly a quarter of the way through, Brendan Rodgers refused to be drawn into talk that Liverpool might be darkhorse title contenders. Yet despite falling back on the standard line of wanting to take things one game at a time, the manager did admit Saturday's match against Arsenal could say a lot about where they could be heading.

"After ten games you have a little look," he admitted, and with the upcoming clash against the league leading Gunners at Emirates stadium set to be Liverpool's tenth, a win there would put his side top of the table and have a lot of people doing more than simply taking a little look. Rodgers was careful to quickly add a "but we will assess it as we go along" while reminding everyone that the focus remains on a top four finish, but a win on Saturday would make it hard for fans to avoid a bit of daydreaming and the media to avoid a bit of speculating.

Even a loss to Arsenal would mean Rodgers' side ends the weekend on pace for a 76 point finish, good enough for the top four in any year, and with the squad showing an ability to grind out results that in the past likely wouldn't have gone their way the mood would almost certainly remain positive. A win, though, would put Liverpool on pace to finish with more than 80 points for only the third time in the Premier League era—and, despite Rodgers' desire not to talk about it, that would make whispers of an unlikely title tilt unavoidable.

And no matter what happens against Arsenal on the weekend, thanks to the form of Daniel Sturridge and the club's firm stance on Luis Suarez over the summer, Liverpool do at least have a strike force good enough to play for a legitimate title challenging side. However, it will likely take that top four finish the club continues to target if they're to keep that strike force intact beyond the current season, something Rodgers is aware of even if he might like to believe otherwise.

"The front two are as good as it gets," added the manager. "Luis is incredible at making something out of nothing. He, like ourselves, wants to be at the very highest level he can be and, by his performances, he deserves to be looking at that level."

A result on Saturday and everyone might be starting to talk about Liverpool rather unexpectedly being at that level—or at least not that far off it. Even a loss would see the club in a stronger position than almost anybody expected them to be after ten games. As important as a win might turn out to be, and as much as the club and players need to work to keep the momentum going, that's a bit of positivity that shouldn't be overlooked.

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