Arsenal and Liverpool: Premier League pretenders or contenders?

After strong starts to the Premier League season, Arsène Wenger and Brendan Rodgers want to make Arsenal and Liverpool realistic title challengers again

1 Are the early signs good?

Arsenal A look at the league table can only bring encouragement, even if the fixtures have been relatively kind. Arsène Wenger feels the Emirates Stadium crowd, which was "sceptical" at times last season, now has "an entirely different attitude". Momentum has built, helped by patches of wonderfully slick football.

Liverpool Hugely encouraging in terms of results, less so in terms of performances until the destruction of West Bromwich Albion last weekend that reinforced Brendan Rodgers' view his team will only improve as the season wears on. Liverpool have found the consistency and winning mentality that an inviting run of home fixtures offered from the start of the season.

2 What are their strengths?

Arsenal Mesut Özil's arrival has galvanised the group and if another attacking midfielder was not the summer's top priority, the German has at least made Wenger's options in the department mouth-watering. Aaron Ramsey's form, building on where he left off last time out, has been a boon.

Liverpool Rodgers believes Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suárez are the finest strike partnership in the Premier League and they have backed his argument on a regular basis. Sturridge was outstanding while Suárez was serving the final six matches of his latest suspension and has continued to impress alongside the irrepressible Uruguay international. The pair have scored 14 of Liverpool's 17 league goals this season.

3 Where are they weak?

Arsenal Olivier Giroud has been impressive but with injuries to the other options, he has come to shoulder a heavy burden. The consequences of losing him would be grave. Arsenal always seem to carry four or five injuries and with Mathieu Flamini currently out, there is a problem in defensive midfield.

Liverpool As the above statistic illustrates, Liverpool have been heavily reliant on their front two. That may not be the gravest problem for a team possessing the quality of Sturridge and Suárez but the team need to offer a greater overall threat, while defensively Liverpool invite trouble at times.

4 What do they need?

Arsenal A diminutive midfielder – say 5ft 9in and 10½st – who can play out wide but prefers the No10 role and will dazzle against the weaker opponents. Only joking. Wenger needed a top-level striker in the summer and he still needs one, despite Giroud's second-season improvement.

Liverpool The squad has been strengthened but there needs to be more top-class additions in midfield and defence to complement the attack at Liverpool, one that is soon to be enhanced by the return from injury of the Brazilian, Philippe Coutinho.

5 The final verdict?

Arsenal The problem with reading too much into Arsenal's points return is that they actually took more from the corresponding fixtures last season, when they did not challenge. The picture will become clearer after what is a defining period – they face Liverpool and Manchester United next; Manchester City and Chelsea before Christmas.

Liverpool They "are in the conversation" for Champions League qualification this season, according to Rodgers, which was always the priority for the campaign and is a realistic assessment after an impressive start. Sterner tests lie ahead, however, starting on Saturday at Arsenal, and it is far too early for "the conversation" to turn to the Premier League.

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