Arsenal's Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla has stated that Liverpool's strong start to the 2013/14 campaign shows they are serious title contenders this year.
The Kop outfit are only two points behind table-toppers Arsenal on 23 points, having won seven of their opening 11 games - losing only two in the process.
The Spaniard netted a superb opener in the sides recent meeting at the Emirates Stadium as the Gunners ran out 2-0 winners against Brendan Rodgers' team. But the 28-year-old has refused to rule them out of securing their first-ever Premier League title.
"The Premier League is very open," he told El Pais. "Obviously United beat us, and they're now only five points behind - just like that things can change.
"And then there is Liverpool, who are the surprise of the campaign and I think they are serious candidates because they have strengthened well."
After managing to hold on to Luis Suarez this summer despite his constant pleas for Champions League football, the Reds have also added Daniel Sturridge to their front line and him and the Uruguayan have since formed a deadly partnership labelled 'SAS.'
Despite missing the first five matches of the season after Suarez bit Branislav Invanovic in a league game towards the culmination of the previous campaign, he has come back firing on all cylinders, becoming the leagues joint-top scorer with Sergio Aguero and strike-partner Sturridge on eight goals.
And Cazorla thinks the Merseysider's squad depth as well as their absence from Europe this year will help them mount a serious challenge for the Premier League crown.
"They have put together a compact team, and they have the advantage of playing in only one competition," he continued. "The Premier League is not easy, it's not Spain, it's more equal."
The midfield playmaker reserved special praise for his manager Arsene Wenger, who he believes has adopted a maturer approach that has contributed to the Gunners' fine start.
Cazorla added: "We've matured, I think. It's nice to see yourself top, it gives you strength and confidence.
"But there's a long way to go - we had to be more consistent and we are now. That is a defect we have corrected.
"Last year, through forgetfulness and lack of concentration, we lost games stupidly and we have learned from that."
Arsenal face high-flyers Southampton once the international break has concluded, while Liverpool face bitter rivals Everton at Goodison Park in the season's first Merseyside derby.
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