At the start of the season, Liverpool and their fans had one major goal, to return to the Champions League, yet here we are at Christmas and the Reds are second in the table only two points behind leaders Arsenal.

As a result the question has to be asked are the Anfield side genuine contenders for the Premier League title this season? Here's why I think the answer is yes.

1. Fortress Anfield

The key to any good run at a title is taking advantage of every home game you have. Liverpool have done that emphatically this season with eight wins and just one loss at Anfield, in the process the Reds have scored 22 goals while conceding just five.

Much like Manchester City then teams are dreading the trip to the red side of Merseyside particularly as Liverpool have averaged four goals in their last five home games.

What is more in Liverpool's favour is in the second half of the season is only an away trip to Old Trafford awaits as Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City all go to Anfield.

Of course the difficult away fixtures to Chelsea and Manchester City await over the next two weeks but if Liverpool's display against Spurs was anything to go by they should at least put up a major fight.

2. Smaller fixture list

It's ironic that one of Liverpool's perhaps least enjoyable parts to this season could actually provide their base for a solid run throughout the entire season.

With the lack of European football at Anfield and only the FA Cup to worry about Liverpool have a much smaller fixture list than any of their major rivals.

Indeed it could be argued that the Thursday night Europa League game for Tottenham last week played a part in Liverpool's romp at White Hart Lane this past Sunday.

With European football on their agendas teams like Chelsea, Arsenal and the two Manchester teams - all who now seem to be Liverpool's biggest challengers with the current disarray at Tottenham - will undoubtedly tire as the season progresses.

Perhaps the point is exaggerated even more by the fact Liverpool play Manchester United and Spurs in March with Manchester City and Chelsea in April.

This means should they be in the Europa or Champions League hunt by that stage they will also have to manage keeping their best teams fit to compete in all competitions and again this can only benefit Liverpool's chances.

3. Return of key players

If the advantage of a smaller fixture list wasn't enough for Liverpool, they can be further boosted by the fact several key players will miss the hectic Christmas period - albeit through injury - and return in January.

Many believed the absence of Daniel Sturridge from the so-called 'SaS' partnership could derail Liverpool's season, indeed after the 3-1 loss to Hull City some alarm bells may have been ringing however since then Liverpool have scored 14 goals and conceded just two mainly thanks to the goal machine that is Luis Suarez.

The return of Sturridge may also give Brendan Rodgers the chance to keep Luis Suarez fresher by resting him if he felt it necessary, of course while ever the Uruguayan is in the form he is fans and Rodgers will be happy to let him keep playing but keeping Suarez as fresh as possible is key.

Steven Gerrard will also return in January, the club and national captain must have been looking on in disbelief as he watched his team decimate Spurs from the Sky Sports studio on Sunday.

If the performances from Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen continue some may question whether Gerrard would immediately return to the starting line-up when he recovers from his hamstring injury, but the enigmatic skipper will have a key role to play particularly if Liverpool are in the title chase entering the final few games.

4. January transfer window

This is an interesting one, currently you would have to say the squad is in good shape with the summer signings bringing more than enough to the team.

Simon Mignolet has been brilliant for Liverpool and the arrival of Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure have, to an extent, boosted the defence. Going forward is a slightly different story, Iago Aspas hasn't been seen for a month or two now while Luis Alberto works his way up through the youth and reserve team, Victor Moses too hasn't made quite the impact fans were hoping.

Of course keeping key players in January will be crucial, there may be the usual merry-go-round surrounding Luis Suarez and Daniel Agger is also said to be on Napoli's radar, however I would expect both to see out this season, Suarez and Agger have said they are happy at Anfield and on current form I wouldn't expect either of them to leave. 

I would be surprised if there was any major additions brought in by Liverpool's scouting panel, maybe an additional striker could boost the attack in case of injuries but any major signings should wait until the summer.

Overall there is a lot for all those associated with Liverpool to be positive about, of course Liverpool currently would be seen as fourth favourites behind Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea, but being in that position of being 'under the radar' is exactly where Liverpool want to be.

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