The ink may not have long dried on the contracts penned by the latest influx of Anfield arrivals. But Trent Alexander-Arnold is convinced new-look Liverpool are already capable of challenging Manchester City for their Premier League crown.

The top two clash at the Etihad on Saturday lunchtime with the Reds just a point behind the leaders having made a strong start to a campaign in which they have also reached the League Cup quarter-finals and are a win away from the Europa League knockout stages.

It's in stark contrast to the same stage last season when Jurgen Klopp's side were a whopping 15 points adrift of then top team Arsenal and ultimately finished 22 behind eventual champions City, missing out on Champions League qualification in the process.

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Liverpool subsequently underwent a major midfield rebuild during the summer with more than £150m spent on recruiting Alexis Mac Allister, Dominik Szoboszlai, Wataru Endo and Ryan Gravenberch.

And while less than four months into the campaign, Alexander-Arnold - a veteran of three previous title tilts at Liverpool, including the successful 2019/20 season - has seen enough in the dressing room to suggest the Reds could be in it for the long haul again this term.

“Being in three campaigns where we should have won the league if it wasn’t for City - obviously we won one but were close in two more - you get a feeling for what you know you are capable of doing," says the Liverpool vice-captain. "Looking around the dressing room, looking at the players we have got, the team, the spirit, the vibe around the team, that (challenging for the league) is something that we feel is achievable.

"If that wasn’t the case, I would be here saying ‘I want to get back in the top four’ because, genuinely, there is nothing wrong with that for this team, a team that has just finished outside the Champions League places.

"There is a rebuild going on, and new players and a lot of senior players have left, so it would be very normal to say ‘get back in the top four and push on from there’. But it (challenging) is something that we believe we can achieve, that is where our sights are at.

"If it doesn’t happen, we have ourselves to blame and we will focus on that if it happens. Right now we have put ourselves in a good position, we have built a great foundation. It is just about consistency. The hardest thing in football is consistently winning games."

Not even an 11-game unbeaten run at the end of last season - in which Alexander-Arnold embraced his new inverted right-back role - was sufficient to salvage a top-four berth, Liverpool missing out for the first time since 2016. Expectations, then, had been adjusted accordingly for this campaign from those outside the team camp, only for them to be swiftly raised in response to the Reds' strong showing thus far.

But are Klopp's men now feeling more pressure to succeed once more? “Not particularly, if I'm honest," says Alexander-Arnold. "Our ambition is to be as successful as possible and to maximise the potential we have got as a team and as a club.

"At the start of last season it was the same as at the start of this season: our ambition was to win the league. We were nowhere near good enough to get anywhere near that last year and that's where we needed to put it right this year. Our aim as a team is to win the league and that's the aim again this season. Last season wasn't good enough."

Instilling the demands of playing for a title-chasing Liverpool was an important part of the initiation process for the summer arrivals, a task Alexander-Arnold was keen to ensure in his new role as vice-captain.

"We brought new players in, it was about adapting as quick as possible and making sure we laid a good foundation at the start of the season," says the 25-year-old. "I think the players who are experienced in being successful with the club all understand what it takes and what's needed to even challenge a team like City. Last season there were too many of us guys who never hit the levels we were expected to and demand of each other. Ultimately, that's how you end up being in fifth place.

"It was about getting that message across as quick as possible to the new players and young players coming in - that responsibility of we need everyone to perform and if we do get players who play really well over the course of the season, it will get us closer to the top of the table."

Having featured in midfield for England in their final Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia, Alexander-Arnold is almost certain to return to right-back as Liverpool aim for a first Premier League victory at the Etihad in eight years.

And he adds: "We are in a really strong position and results and form-wise we are doing enough to stay as close as possible to the top of the table. The league isn't won yet, there are still a lot of games to play, but so far we've performed in a way that is how you would expect someone who can win the league to perform and if we carry this on we should be in and around it come May."

Saturday will be the litmus test of just how far Liverpool can press City this season.