• Full-back adds they will keep calm and carry on scoring
• Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says time is not on Cardiff's side
There was a time when the majority of football fans were sick to death of the sight of Liverpool parading league titles and dominating the domestic scene but it is a measure of how much the landscape has changed over the last couple of decades that Glen Johnson may well have captured the public mood when he said Brendan Rodgers' team would be the people's choice to finish top this year.
While Manchester United and Everton supporters will shake their head at those sentiments, within football there is no shortage of admiration for the way Liverpool are playing right now. It is hard not to warm to a team that gives the impression there is little point worrying about keeping clean sheets when goals come so easily at the other end. Liverpool have won their last six league matches and racked up 24 goals in the process.
Another three points against Sunderland at Anfield on Wednesday night and the club that has not won a league title since 1990 will be breathing down Chelsea's neck. "I think just to spice things up the neutrals would want to see us win it," Johnson said. "Nobody wants the same teams to be winning it over and over again.
"I guess the neutrals will be packing a punch for us. We must be good to watch. People watch football to enjoy themselves, see goals and see exciting football and I think we do provide that. I think people will be rooting for us because it will be something different."
While Liverpool's emergence as authentic title contenders was not exactly in the script, there has always been a quiet confidence among Rodgers' squad about what they could achieve. "I'm not that surprised, to be honest," Johnson said. "Even last season we were battering teams but not getting the goals. At the moment we are playing well and getting the goals. It's a case of staying calm, really. As long as we keep going week by week, winning our games, we know we will be there or thereabouts."
The one obvious chink in Liverpool's armour is their porous defence. Two goals from Jordon Mutch here and another from Fraizer Campbell exposed Liverpool's limitations in that department – they have shipped 38 goals in 30 matches.
To put that record into context there has been only one occasion in the past 13 seasons when the Premier League champions have conceded more than a goal per game.
On the other side of the coin, rarely has a team produced such exhilarating attacking play and scored so freely. Liverpool are on course to top 100 Premier League goals this season, largely thanks to Luis Suárez and Daniel Sturridge.
Suárez's third hat-trick of the campaign, which meant he has equalled Robbie Fowler's 28-goal record for a Liverpool Premier League season, and Sturridge's second-half strike means that Liverpool's front two have contributed a remarkable 47 Premier League goals between them.
Reflecting on Liverpool's firepower, Rodgers sounded as if he is almost starting to feel a degree of sympathy for his opposite number, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. "I know as a manager that, when you are stood on the touchline, the thing you fear most is the opponent and their offensive threat," the Liverpool manager said. "You are playing against a team that you know can score from anywhere, any angle, and a team that can dominate the ball."
It is also a team that has learned to remain calm in the face of adversity and stay true to the passing principles that Rodgers has worked hard to ingrain since taking over. "If you think back to when I first came in, there was always a panic, we played last-five-minutes football with 70 minutes to go. We lost the composure," Rodgers said. "I think there's now an inherent belief in the team."
For Cardiff the stakes are every bit as high at the other end of the table. Solskjaer was bitterly disappointed that Martin Skrtel scored his second goal when Cardiff were down to nine men, with Mutch and Kévin Théophile-Catherine waiting to come back on to the field after receiving treatment, but the Norwegian could have no complaints about the final outcome.
The defeat leaves Cardiff second from bottom and facing a game of huge significance at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday. "We don't want plaudits for giving Liverpool a game; we need points," the Cardiff manager said. "We've got seven games to get four more points than the two teams in front of us. We are definitely running out of time. But the teams around us are not winning either. I don't know if it is going to require four more wins. I actually think it might be less. But the game against West Brom is not negotiable. It will be vital. You can't lose that one."
Man of the match Luis Suárez (Liverpool)