Roy Hodgson is adamant Liverpool will not suffer from an inferiority complex against Chelsea tomorrow and believes the reigning champions are as vulnerable as any Premier League team to a sudden loss of form.
Chelsea are five points clear of their nearest challengers and will arrive at Anfield 13 points ahead of Hodgson's team. Their relentless form, particularly at Stamford Bridge where Carlo Ancelotti's side have yet to concede a point or even a goal in the league this season, has established them as firm favourites to retain the title. But Hodgson is dismissive of the theory Chelsea are far superior to their rivals.
The Liverpool manager, who got to know Ancelotti during his time at Internazionale, when the Italian was working with the national team under Arrigo Sacchi, said: "At the moment they are there because they have made a good start, but I'm sure Ancelotti would also tell you - being an experienced manager who has worked in Italy - that you can have a spell which goes the other way.
"It may not be long before they have a bad spell and you're asking what's gone wrong with Chelsea. If, after 38 games, you ask me what is it that made Chelsea champions, I might be more interested in answering the question, but not after 10."
Thursday's Steven Gerrard-inspired recovery against Napoli in the Europa League was Liverpool's third consecutive win in all competitions and, while performances have fluctuated against Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers and the Italian side, Hodgson believes self-belief has returned ahead of the champions' visit.
"We were down in terms of results and we were down in terms of the enormous amount of criticism we were attracting - some of it very unfair, some of it downright lies," said the manager, whose January transfer targets may include the Saint-Etienne midfielder Dimitri Payet. "Of course that does affect people because we are only human beings and these things affect them.
"But when you get a few wins, and people are saying nicer things about you, it lifts your confidence - but that's football. As a coach, you can't stop people writing what they write, and you can't stop people reading it and being affected by it."
Merseyside police, meanwhile, have blamed tour companies and a minority of Liverpool supporters for the trouble that occurred during and after the Europa League tie with Napoli. An estimated 500 Napoli supporters acquired tickets for the home sections of Anfield on Thursday night, with many more turned away at the turnstiles.
"They bought them from what had been seen as reputable tour companies," said chief superintendent Dave Lewis, who oversaw a match designated as "increased risk" following the attacks on Liverpool supporters in Naples a fortnight earlier.
"Somebody, somewhere, was able to get tickets and put them on sale through these companies. We need to look further into that to see how that happened."
Seven people were arrested on the night, three inside the ground and four outside, with the most serious disturbance coming when rival supporters clashed near Goodison Park after the game.
Lewis added: "A minority of Liverpool supporters were intent on having an attack on the Napoli supporters. We had a large focus on Liverpool supporters who are known to us. They were seeking problems. Napoli fans had not come looking for trouble. But as trouble started they were not ones to back away from it."