"We <em>are</em> challenging," was Kolo Toure's response when, following Sunday's victory over Tottenham, he was asked about Liverpool's chances of challenging for the title. "Every single game is really important for us, and I think we started the game very well, very strong, and we played as a team. We fight, we attack, we defend together, and that is very important when you want to challenge for the title, definitely."
And the fact is that right now, sat second half way through September and only two points back of league leaders Arsenal, Liverpool <em>are</em> challenging for the title. Few, though, seem quite ready to suggest that come the end of the season the club will still be within similar striking distance. Still, for as long as it lasts, fans could be forgiven for enjoying being closer to the top than the club has been since the nearly-there title challenge of 2008-09.
For Toure, though, recent weeks have seen him on the bench due to the reemergence of Martin Skrtel. In Liverpool's crowded defence, somebody was bound to miss out, and after a stellar start it increasingly appears that person will be the veteran Toure. Despite this, and just as it was when he was playing more regularly, the defender continues to say all the right things while appearing invested in his new club to the point he often sounds more fan than player.
"For us we love him because he is a great player," added the Ivorian centre half when asked about the stellar play of Luis Suarez after the striker turned in yet another world class performance. "Of course we don't want to lose him to another team and I think he stayed and you can see that everyone wants to improve the club, to try to win trophies. I think now he can see that all the players want to fight and want to try to win this title.
"He is a great player and was amazing at Spurs, playing like he always does. He is so important. The fact that he was captain showed how much the manager respects him and I think he is a leader as well. Luis is usually very shy but on the pitch he is a leader; he was talking to his team-mates at Tottenham and helping them. He scored goals and he fought for the team, he helped people, and that’s why he is great."
Well then. If Kolo Toure says Suarez is great, we're taking it as the final word on the matter. Also, Kolo Toure remains kind of awesome and the entire Liverpool Offside staff hope he sticks around as long as possible and wins lots of trophies with the club.