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Liverpool: Luis Suarez form means Aston Villa may struggle, says David Jones

David Jones - David Jones Posted 16th January 2014 view comments

It was refreshing to hear Brendan Rodgers declaring that his team could end their long wait to be crowned champions after their thrilling 5-3 win at Stoke on Super Sunday.

Liverpool should be challenging the elite and rather than talk down their title hopes, Rodgers' words will help focus minds on what can be achieved at Anfield this season.

Of course they remain outsiders; they're competing with the financial muscle of Chelsea and Manchester City, while Arsenal are probably a season or two ahead in terms of their development.

Suarez: shooting from better positions has improved goal return

Suarez: shooting from better positions has improved goal return

But Liverpool have to be taken seriously; particularly when they have the league's most deadly goalscorer in their ranks.

Luis Suarez is well on the way to a record-breaking season: 22 goals already - three more than any other striker has managed at this point in a Premier League season; he has become ruthlessly efficient.

At Stoke, for example Suarez, had four efforts on goal, three of which were on target, and he scored with two: not a bad ratio.

His goals go some way to explaining why Liverpool's fortunes have improved this season.

The meeting with Aston Villa at Anfield last season is a case in point.

Liverpool lost the game 3-1 despite having 72% possession that afternoon and 29 attempts on goal of which only eight were on target. That day Suarez himself had seven efforts (three more than at Stoke) but only two were on target and neither beat Brad Guzan in the Villa goal.

Liverpool this season are still dominating games and shooting just as much but now they are shooting from better positions and their strikers are thriving. Not just Suarez, but Daniel Sturridge too, who burst back into action at the Britannia as if he'd never been away.

But that Villa performance at Anfield back in December 2012 was arguably the best of Paul Lambert's reign: certainly right up there with the opening day victory at the Emirates.

We saw then the counter-attacking machine at its best: somehow thwarting wave after wave of Liverpool attack before breaking with pace and real quality.

Perhaps that was the game Christian Benteke really came to the fore with two goals and a dominating display of poise and power.

We saw a glimpse of that again on Monday night when the Belgian ended his four month search for a goal and Villa need him back to his brutal best to be sure of dragging themselves away from the bottom three.

It was this time last year Benteke's goal glut began with 14 in five months to see him become one of the most sought-after strikers in the Premier League.

He will relish a return to Anfield on Saturday with confidence restored but lethal Liverpool will take some stopping.

David Jones presents coverage of Liverpool v Aston Villa live on Saturday Night Football from 5pm, Saturday, Sky Sports 1

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