Alan Hansen: Man City's strength can crush Kop's dream of title glory
There are still so many barriers and hurdles for Liverpool to cross if they are to win the Premier League title this season, but if they collect four points from their next two games, the club's supporters can start thinking about dreamland.
If Arsenal fail to beat Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium tonight, Liverpool will hold the distinction of being top at Christmas for the first time since 2008, but I believe it is dangerous for anyone connected with the club to believe they are now going to win the title.
The team which led the Premier League on Christmas Day 2008 was a really good one, with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher in their prime and top-class players such as Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Pepe Reina at the peak of their powers.
They ultimately finished second to Manchester United, but it was a stronger team than the one exceeding all expectations under Brendan Rodgers.
Rodgers is playing everything right at the moment, insisting that the title is Manchester City's to lose and that Liverpool are simply happy to be making progress.
But Liverpool go to the Etihad Stadium on St Stephen's Day and then to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Sunday and, if they can emerge with four points from those two games, then perhaps we do have to start regarding them as genuine contenders for the title.
Personally, I regard the gap between the strength of Liverpool's squad and City's as the key factor in why Manuel Pellegrini's team are the clear favourites to win the title.
City have an awesome squad with far greater strength in depth than Liverpool and, although Rodgers' team have continued to win without the injured Gerrard and Daniel Sturridge recently, there will come a time when the goals dry up for Luis Suarez.
No player in the history of English football has been able to sustain, for an entire season, the kind of form Suarez is producing.
People may point to the modern era throwing up the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who have scored in incredible numbers for Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively, but that is in Spain.
It is a different matter in England and Suarez will, inevitably, go three or four games without scoring and that is when Liverpool could hit trouble.
At the start of the season, I felt that going from seventh position last season to fourth this time around would be a real achievement for Liverpool.
It is all about making progress, but the measure of Liverpool's progress so far this season is that finishing fifth would now be a major disappointment.
Winning the league would be incredible, the leap from seventh to first unheard of in the Premier League era, but when Liverpool beat Cardiff City on Saturday, I began to believe for the first time that they could finish in the top four.
After losing at Arsenal in November, Liverpool learnt a lesson and, although they have since lost at Hull City, their response to the defeat at the Emirates Stadium has been hugely impressive.
They are not just winning games, they are hammering their opponents, scoring 17 goals in their last four league games.
The unsung heroes have been players like Simon Mignolet, Philippe Coutinho, the much-maligned Lucas and Jordan Henderson, who has really found his game and become a fixture in the team.
The icing on the cake has been Suarez, who has gone from being the arch-villain in the summer to 'Saint Luis' in the eyes of the Anfield supporters.
Rodgers and Ian Ayre, the managing director, deserve great credit for holding firm on Suarez when he wanted to leave the club at the end of last season.
After biting Branislav Ivanovic, it appeared to be the end of the road for Suarez, with many calling on the club to get rid of him.
They could easily have sold him for £45m in the summer, but had they done that, Liverpool would now be nowhere near the top of the table.
You only need to look at Tottenham, who banked £85m for Gareth Bale and spent that and more on replacements only to end up with a collection of players who have contributed little or nothing.
Spurs have now got rid of their manager and are really struggling, so the importance to Liverpool of keeping Suarez cannot be overstated.
If he continues to perform as he has done for the next four years, then he will be up there with the Liverpool legends like Gerrard and Kenny Dalglish because he is a phenomenal footballer.
At this halfway stage of the season, however, it would be fatal for Liverpool to start believing that their 24-year wait for the title is over.
Yes, progress has been made and a return to the Champions League is now a real possibility, but Manchester City appear to be so far ahead of the rest that I cannot see Liverpool or anybody else beating them to the title. (© Daily Telegraph, London)