EPL: The long journey ahead for LIverpool

Steven Gerrard from Liverpool

Some fans and observers may be optimistic about Liverpool's start of the season, after their 1-0 win over Aston Villa on Sunday.

Granted, this is the first time they have won their first two league games of the season in the last five years, which was the last time they mounted a serious challenge for the title.

But for all their possession the Reds had only five shots, and one on target at Villa Park - Daniel Sturridge's solitary goal in the 21st minute.

There were some nice one-twos but where was the end product?

That said, Liverpool have been performing well since the end of last season, and the same can be said with Sturridge, so their results should be taken into context instead of looking at them in this season alone.

I feel that once Luis Suarez completes his ban and gets his fitness back - as well has having his head in the right place - Liverpool can have a phenomenal attacking force in the Uruguayan, Sturridge and 21-year-old Philippe Coutinho in a 4-3-1-2 formation, with the Brazilian in the hole behind the two strikers.

Coutinho's a very young lad with beautiful balance - he's good with both legs, has a wonderful touch and great vision.

Some may wonder how a player with his size can survive the physical nature of the Premiership, but I feel he has adapted well in the eight months he's been at Anfield after joining from Inter Milan.

In this short time, he has learned to ride the challenges with a very good attitude and will have a very bright future if he stays with the club.

While Peter Beardsley has compared the youngster with Kenny Dalglish and some are singing his praises, I would prefer not to make such comparisons, nor would I cast any labels - such as world-class - on him.

The lad has a lot of potential but he still has not proven himself against more illustrious teams yet.

He still has much to learn, such as his positional sense and when to hold or release the ball and needs to perform well consistently over the next few seasons to be truly considered great.

Develop

The playmaker should be given time to develop himself as a player without pressure, and that is where Brendan Rodgers will do a very good job.

I hope the boy has a long future at Anfield and that the club ties him down with a long contract, but I see the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid knocking on the door for him in the future.

In particular, the Catalans would be a good fit for Coutinho, who I think has what it takes to replace the ageing Andres Iniesta.

But Liverpool will have to hold on to match-winners like Coutinho if they want to be a big club and challenge for titles, instead of selling them to the highest bidder.

It would be difficult to predict who the champions might be this season, with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea all having new managers.

But I reckon Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool all have a shout for fourth place and the remaining Champions League spot.

Arsenal have players with the Xfactor, such as Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla, who are capable of winning games.

But their squad look threadbare thin at the moment and it may cost them if they don't strengthen in this transfer window.

Conversely, Spurs will lose their Xfactor if they sell Gareth Bale.

I've watched them play against Crystal Palace without the Welshman, and they didn't look that menacing, even with new recruits Paulinho, Roberto Soldado and Nacer Chadli.

Rodgers' side have continued their good form from the end of last season and have strengthened the side with signings such as Aly Cissokho, Iago Aspas and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, who has already saved his team from dropping points with excellent saves in their first two matches.

This is certainly the start of an exciting and unpredictable season to come.

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