Liverpool: Can they challenge for the Premier League?

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The new season has kicked into action and it appears that Brendan Rodgers wasn't lying when he said last year was a transitional period for Liverpool.

The Reds have hit top gear early this season and sit on top of the pile after four matches with 10 points, including a 1-0 victory over Manchester United.

It is an incredible turnaround seeing as this time last year Liverpool had started abysmally and found themselves in 18th place having not yet won a fixture.

Furthermore, the Kop have some new chants to conjure as both defensively and going forward, a number of players have shone so far this season.

Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge have continued their blossoming partnership with the latter scoring in each of Liverpool's four matches so far.

Victor Moses appears to be another worthy addition, scoring on his debut against Swansea. At the back Simon Mignolet has had an excellent start to life at Anfield, Kolo Toure has already justified why he was signed and new signings Mamadou Sakho and Tiago Llori have added strength to the back four.

Looking back at the start of last season, things didn't go as planned for Brendan Rodgers. Liverpool suffered a 3-0 opening day defeat against West Bromwich Albion, Martin Skrtel gifted Manchester City a late goal which resulted in a 2-2 draw and a 2-0 loss to Arsenal combined with a 1-1 draw at Sunderland meant Liverpool were left off the pace and placed in the relegation zone.

Rodgers continually stated that his first season in charge was a transitional period in which Liverpool were adjusting to his new style.

So far it appears that Rodgers wasn't trying to buy himself some time, Liverpool look a different side thus far. While they continue to play the attractive football Rodgers has become famous for they have added a steel to the game, evident in the way they closed out one goal leads against Stoke, Aston Villa and Manchester United.

In their most recent outing against Swansea, Liverpool had a reshuffled back four with Sakho making his debut, albeit unscheduled. The centre back stepped in admirably but could only help Liverpool draw 2-2, enough to keep them on top of the table.

It came as no shock when Rodgers invested heavily in defenders this summer, with left back Ally Cissokho also joining from on loan Valencia CF. However, a vital part of Liverpool's early success this season is the role of midfield lynchpin Lucas Leiva.

The Brazilian was absent in all four of Liverpool's opening matches last season and has shown his importance so far this term. Lucas has made 16 successful tackles and won 11 aerial duels.

Lucas is a vital cog in the system that Liverpool employ, without him Coutinho wouldn't be able to have the freedom to roam and the full backs wouldn't be able to attack so freely.

Combined with Steven Gerrard Liverpool have a deep midfield that can clear up and then rely on Gerrard's precise right foot to begin attacks from deep within their own half.

While Lucas has had a very big say in Liverpool's sterling defensive effort so far, Simon Mignolet has already saved Liverpool on a number of occasions.

The Belgian has averaged three saves per match and made late important saves against Aston Villa and Manchester United, as well as a penalty save against Stoke on the opening day of the season. Although I am still bitter about the way Pepe Reina left the club, Mignolet already looks to be a top class goalkeeper.

Despite these returns to form and additions to the side, it is clear that the entire squad has bought into Rodgers and the statistics show it. You can't lose a match of football if you keep the ball for 90 minutes.

Liverpool have continued their impressive passing with a 81% completion rate. However it is the defensive pressuring that has improved most from last season. So far this season Liverpool have won the ball back in the opposition half on average eight times a match, double the amount of last season's opening four matches.

In an almost exact opposite of what happened to Lucas, last season Liverpool had Luis Suarez fit and firing for their opening four matches, however arguably the best player in the league is yet to play a minute so far this year.

The Uruguayan could have a huge impact this year despite all that has gone on over Summer. If he returns dedicated to the shirt it could be like signing a new player and I'm sure Rodgers has been kept up at night trying to figure out a way to get the most out of both Suarez and the in form Sturridge.

Liverpool have started the season brilliantly and the strength in depth is encouraging for the forthcoming year. Ian Ayre stated that Sakho was a marquee signing and at £18 million it is understandable, despite fans wanting a classy attacking player to come in.

Suarez could return and almost have the effect of a new signing, and there is no doubt that he would be seen as a marquee player across World football. Suarez could really set alight the side going forward and help lead the charge to a top four finish that the fans have been craving.

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