Wherever it finishes in the Barclays Premier League at the conclusion of 2013-14, Liverpool will have a significant impact on the makeup of the final standings, Ian Rush says.
Brendan Rodgers’ team currently is fourth in the division, trailing leader Chelsea by four points and, in the opposite direction, holding a three-point advantage ahead of Tottenham Hotspur.
“We are still the outsiders to win the title, but the fact we’re still in the race at this stage of the season shows how far we’ve come under Brendan,” Rush told the Liverpool Echo. “You have to start believing that winning it is possible. We have to be looking up rather than down. Before maybe we were looking over our shoulder and thinking fourth, fifth or sixth, but now with the position we’re in, we should be targeting fourth place and upwards.
“We’ve still got Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham to play at home. Even if we don’t win the league, we will have a big say in who does win it.
“We all wanted to do well in the [FA] Cup, but that’s gone now, and we need to concentrate on the league. Hopefully losing in the cup will prove to be a blessing in disguise.
“All our focus is on the 12 league games. Others have bigger squads than Liverpool, but they also have the [UEFA] Champions League to concentrate on, and that will take it out of them. …
“The opening 20 minutes against Arsenal was just phenomenal. We were 4-0 up and could have had even more goals.
“We’re starting games quickly, and that makes a big difference. An early goal always gets the crowd going. If you’re going to be successful, then you need to be winning your home games. Now teams are coming to Anfield fearing what’s going to happen.
“They are thinking, ‘We can’t really attack too much because we will get done.’ Trying to just defend isn’t working for visiting teams either as we have learned how to break teams down.
“Brendan has got the players believing in themselves, and you can see that confidence levels are high. We’re playing attacking football, which is exciting to watch.
“The crowd sense that belief at Anfield, and they really get behind the team. If we go into those games against Chelsea and City knowing if we beat them we could go above them, then I think the crowd will make a big difference for us.”
The man who plundered 346 goals in a Reds shirt across two separate spells has particularly appreciated the goal-scoring exploits of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.
“There isn’t a better front two in the Premier League than Suarez and Sturridge. Their scoring record has been brilliant,” Rush said. “Even though Suarez hasn’t been scoring recently, he’s still playing really well. His overall play is excellent, and his work rate is first-class.
“He has been operating out wide a lot and been doing a job for the team. He has become a better all-round player under Brendan. He’s very unselfish. Suarez is on course for the Golden Boot and he should get Player of the Year, too. No one else comes close.
“I thought last year Suarez and Gareth Bale were the two best players in the league. This season, Suarez has surpassed the level he was at last season. Considering he missed the first five league games, to score 23 league goals has been amazing.
“Daniel has been superb this season. The big thing has been keeping himself fit and making sure he’s been able to play regularly. I think he has learned from playing with someone like Suarez and has become a better player.
“He has to keep getting into those great positions. If he gets three chances against Swansea on Sunday, I know he will score at least one or two of them.”