Former Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier first contemplated the prospect of his old club challenging for the Barclays Premier League title three months ago, having been impressed by their 'outstanding football'.

A hard-fought 3-2 victory over Norwich City on Sunday brought triple benefits for the Reds; an 11th consecutive win in the division, the result sent Brendan Rodgers' team five points clear at the summit and secured Champions League qualification.

One day on, Houllier returned to Anfield to take charge of the international legends XI as they attempted to overcome a local legends team as part of the 'Celebration of the 96' event at the club's home ground.

The 66-year-old guided his charges to an entertaining 2-2 draw against Kenny Dalglish's outfit - undone by a late Robbie Fowler penalty - after being treated to a vociferous welcome by a sold-out crowd in L4.

When the final whistle had been blown and supporters were filing away to the remainder of their Easter Monday, Houllier switched his thoughts to the remarkable surge which has carried Liverpool to the top of the Premier League.

"I gave an interview to a newspaper about three months ago and I said Liverpool could be the champions," the Frenchman, who led the Reds for six years, told

"They are my favourites, because I looked at the fixtures and the way they play. Their football is outstanding - very modern, with a lot of pace and power going forward, and moving in the right areas with players with intelligence in their movement.

"I saw that two or three months ago; I said they could go right to the end and probably win it. I'm pleased that they are now three games away from that and, to be fair, they deserve it."

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