By Toby Davis
LONDON, Dec 15 (Reuters) - A combination of industry and arrogance set Liverpool on their way to a "complete performance" in the 5-0 mauling of Tottenham Hotspur, manager Brendan Rodgers said on Sunday.
Despite missing captain Steven Gerrard and striker Daniel Sturridge, the Merseysiders, who moved up to second in the Premier League, stylishly dismantled one of their rivals for a top-four place, and laid down a marker in what is becoming an increasingly congested title race.
"It's probably the most complete performance to come here and get a victory like that," Rodgers told reporters.
"We worked like animals without the ball and when we got it our use of it was outstanding.
"I loved our arrogance today. Look at our midfield three (Lucas Leiva, Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson), the energy, quality and pressing."
Liverpool have not mounted a serious assault on the title since 2009 when they fell four points short of Manchester United, in former manager Rafa Benitez's penultimate campaign.
While fans are starting to whisper under their breath that this team could end the club's 23-year drought, the Liverpool manager would not be drawn into speculation.
"Title contenders? I'm not even thinking about it," Rodgers said.
"My job over a period of time was to develop a style of football, while moving the club forward.
"Obviously (the title) that was my dream, I didn't come in to finish third or fourth. If we can stay clear of injury then let's see where it takes us."
If they are going to challenge their richer rivals come the end of the season, Liverpool are likely to be hugely reliant on striker Luis Suarez maintaining his run of scoring form.
The Uruguayan's two goals on Sunday took his tally for the season to a remarkable 17 goals in 11 games.
Struggling to find a word to describe Suarez's performance having already exhausted his full lexicon of superlatives, Rodgers eventually settled on "inspirational".
In Gerrard's absence, the Uruguayan pulled on the captain's armband and led the Merseysiders out the tunnel as well as on the pitch with a performance full of gut-busting energy and cutting quality.
"Inspirational, he has captained one of the most iconic clubs in European football in Ajax, so it is not new to him," Rodgers said.
"With the players out, what I wanted to do was to have someone who could represent me and the club in that tunnel before we even step on the pitch," he added.
"When Luis Suarez has the armband on him and he is stood waiting to go out, everyone knows this is a team there to fight. And he was great.
"In the changing-room. I think he enjoyed it. I spoke to him a few days ago and said I wanted him to lead this club, one of the biggest in the world and I think he has really enjoyed it.
"Today you see his performance level. He is always encouraging young players, but he is relentless in his work and his quality and goals were fantastic." (Editing by Ed Osmond)