Gary Neville
Football Expert

Gary Neville: Liverpool are top four contenders but unlikely to win title

Gary Neville on Liverpool's title chances

Gary Neville analyses what has gone right for Liverpool this season and whether they can challenge for the title ahead of their Premier League clash with Hull on Super Sunday.

WHY HAVE LIVERPOOL DONE SO WELL THIS SEASON?

Brendan Rodgers' side have been in great form this season and have only slipped up twice in the Premier League, losing to Southampton and Arsenal. Much of their good form can be attributed to the striking partnership of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, who have both netted nine goals in the league.

GARY SAYS: Obviously there's the front two, they're a threat in every single game and I think that they've benefitted from good performances by Jordan Henderson and Steven Gerrard. They've got players who are rested. They're not in European competition, which has given them the opportunity week-to-week to be able to plan for matches, but generally as well there's been a gentle progression from last season and a manager in his second season moving forward, who's had time to work on his squad and his beliefs.

ARE THEY TITLE, OR TOP FOUR CONTENDERS?

Liverpool's highest finish in the Premier League era was in 2008/09 when they finished second. That was also the last time they qualified for the Champions League. Now, their main focus is getting back in with Europe's elite to try and rekindle their form of 2005, when they won the highest accolade in European football.

GARY SAYS: Liverpool are certainly top-four contenders, but I don't think they'll win the title - I don't think they'll be able to progress that much this season but I think they've got a fantastic chance of getting towards that top four. If you think about where they were last year and the fact that they struggled to compete for a Champions League space that would be progression for Liverpool this season.

DOES NOT HAVING EUROPEAN FOOTBALL GIVE THEM AN ADVANTAGE?

Last season's trophy-less campaign and seventh-place finish in the league meant the Reds failed to qualify for any European competition - but will that enable them to fully focus on their domestic form this term?

GARY SAYS: I think that's a big thing. You could argue that the momentum created by cup competitions is important but I think Europa League teams - we've seen it with Tottenham this year, Stoke last year, Newcastle as well - it can be really difficult to adapt to play Thursday-Sunday and always be behind. I think that them not being in the Europa League this season is a plus point for them because of the fact they can concentrate wholly on their target and that is getting back into the Champions League.

HOW IMPORTANT WILL THE CHRISTMAS PERIOD BE?

Liverpool's December Fixtures

  • 1st Hull (a)
  • 4th Norwich (h)
  • 7th West Ham (h)
  • 15th Tottenham (a)
  • 21st Cardiff (h)
  • 26th Man City (a)
  • 29 Chelsea (a)

This week's Super Sunday clash with Hull is followed by home games with West Ham and Norwich - before a tough-looking Christmas run. The next few weeks could make or break Liverpool's season...

GARY SAYS: I think this Christmas period is critical. You always say it but I think it really is this season. I think what we're going to see with Liverpool in particular is they've got two or three games which we say on paper they could win but then up to New Year's Day they've got some real tough fixtures including City, Chelsea and Tottenham away. If they come out the other side of those fixtures, which is probably about the half-way point of the season, and they're still really in contention for those Champions League spaces and a few points off the top of the league, they can be a lot more confident about how their season is going to go.

To hear Gary's views in full make sure you watch the video above and don't miss Hull v Liverpool live on Sky Sports 1 from 1pm on Sunday