Liverpool could hardly be in higher spirits as they set out on the short trip to Manchester City on Saturday hoping to make a strong case for their Premier League title prospects.
Pep Guardiola’s City and neighbours Manchester United, together with champions Chelsea, have already been installed as the trio most likely to contest the title, but optimism is surging on Merseyside after a free-scoring August.
A 4-0 thrashing of a compliant Arsenal side before the international break means Juergen Klopp’s side have seven points from nine during an opening period in which they also safely negotiated a Champions League playoff against Hoffenheim.
What is more, Liverpool’s transfer window business has been hailed as some of the best amongst the leading clubs.
Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah was rated by number crunchers at the CIES Football Observatory as the bargain of the summer after arriving in a deal worth a reported 36 million pounds ($47.01 million) from Roma and a goal on his debut plus strikes against Hoffenheim and Arsenal have quickly endeared him to Anfield’s faithful.
The deadline-day signing from Arsenal of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain — a player Klopp believes can become a Liverpool great — adds more firepower to an attack already boasting Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino and which will soon be further boosted by the return from injury of Adam Lallana.
The rising stock of midfielder Jordan Henderson, who has captained England twice in the past week, and a superb goal for teenager Ben Woodburn on his Wales debut means the continued uncertainty surrounding Phillipe Coutinho and his desire to join Barcelona is a manageable distraction.
No wonder pundits are taking Liverpool seriously.
“I didn’t fancy Liverpool before the season started but they’ve made some decent buys and kept Coutinho which is a boost for them,” former Manchester United great Ryan Giggs conceded this week. “After the business they’ve done I’ve probably changed my mind and they will be in the mix.”