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AVB: Reds should be challenging

Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas has claimed Liverpool should be challenging for the Premier League title this season having spent over £50 million in the summer.

• Chelsea v Liverpool preview

Liverpool travel to Stamford Bridge on Sunday knowing victory could lift them level on points with Chelsea, who currently occupy fourth place. However, defeat would leave Kenny Dalglish's side six points outside the Champions League places, and 15 points behind league leaders Manchester City.

Dalglish spent big sums on the likes of Stewart Downing, Charlie Adam and Jordan Henderson over the summer, and the Reds are still awaiting a consistent run of top performances from all three players.

Villas-Boas has spoken of Liverpool as title challengers in the past and continues to do so, but he admits he mainly includes them because the Reds have spent the required amount of money to enter the race.

"I've always seen them as title contenders because it's been assumed by them that they would do it," Villas-Boas said.

"Dalglish has made the necessary changes to Liverpool for them to progress to title contenders this year. He made seven changes to the team, seven coming in, which represents the type of commitment the ownership have to put them back on title-winning ways.

"They are one of the biggest clubs in England and I always assumed they were challenging for the title."

As for his own side, Villas-Boas knows he cannot afford a defeat that would leave Chelsea trailing City by 12 points having played the same number of games. Should the Blues win to close that gap to nine, he warned that his side will step up a gear heading into Christmas.

"Chelsea's recovery last season was from February onwards," the Portuguese said. "April, March and May are still tight in terms of the calendar. All the top teams will most likely be involved in the Champions League, which can dictate tiredness or less response in terms of the Premier League."

"It's a good period for the different competitions. You can qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League, the Premier League can maybe start taking its pattern by the end of December. There's also a quarter-final in the Carling Cup with Liverpool, which gives us a chance to go into that competition next year."

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