Having created the platform for a successful season during the opening months of the campaign, Liverpool must seize the chance to challenge in 2013-14 according to Kenny Dalglish.

Brendan Rodgers' team have won seven of their 11 Barclays Premier League fixtures so far, entering the current international break second in the standings behind pace-setters Arsenal.

Alongside surprise packages Southampton - the only team to prevent the Reds from winning at Anfield this season - Liverpool have received huge plaudits for their impressive early form.

For Dalglish, though, now is the time for his former club to move up a notch in their attempts to reclaim a position among the Premier League top four and Champions League elite.

"They are the two sides that have been the surprise ­packages of the season so far and they appear to be the ones playing with the most freedom," the Scot wrote in his Daily Mirror column.

"They look fresh and eager and I think they are both being helped by the fact they don't have to worry about European football this season.

"Of course, you want to be involved in the Champions League and the Europa League, if you can, but sometimes you can use your absence from those competitions to your advantage.

"We are not yet a third of the way through the season, but we are not far off and it is getting to the point where we have to take the claims of ­Southampton and Liverpool s­eriously.

"Nobody really considered either of them - especially the Saints - legitimate contenders for a top-four place this season.


"But they are reaping the benefits of not having to adapt to a new manager, as many of the leading clubs are having to do.

"It has got to the stage now where, if they buy in January, I think both might have a real chance of staying up there.

"We know that the top teams will all strengthen. Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City will all buy in the next window.

"So, if they can - if finances allow it - then ­Liverpool and Southampton need to do the same.

"If they do that, the rewards could be considerable. They have got themselves in ­position. Now they have to try to seize their opportunity."