By James McManus
Former Liverpool winger John Barnes believes that the club will still finish above Merseyside rivals Everton in the Premier League this term.
Brendan Rodgers' team have endured a difficult start to the season, picking up just two points from their opening five league games and still in search of their first win.
On the other hand, perennial slow-starters Everton have raced out of the blocks, winning three of their opening five games on their way to third in the table, but Barnes doesn't believe both sides' respective starts are indicative of how their seasons will eventually pan out.
"I never think that Everton will finish above Liverpool," Barnes told Goal.com.
"While they've had a great start, every side will go through periods where they'll go through a dip and just because they've had a good start, it doesn't mean that they're going to go on and win the league or anything.
"Everton are playing well, though, they're playing with confidence, they've got a good side, they've got experience and players that have played together for a while.
"Pienaar coming back has helped them, but I think Liverpool will still finish above them."
With regards to what the club can realistically hope to achieve in the league this campaign, Barnes believes that setting their sights on a top eight finish, despite the period of transition, is well within their reach.
"I think top eight is still realistic. They've not had the best start but looking at the last few games in terms of performances, they need to be a little bit more clinical in front of goal, but the performances haven't been that bad.
"They've created opportunities up until the final third, but if they can just work on how they do in front of goal, that would help. Given the result against West Brom, that could be one of the turning points in their season so far as they've managed to come back from a goal behind with a young side.
"The whole doom and gloom has been based on the fact that, okay with our first XI we've not done all that well yet and if we look to other players we've got no chance at all.
"But the young players he played last night against West Brom will have shown Brendan Rodgers that he can trust them to play them and it will give them renewed optimism for the future.
"Allied with their last two performances against Sunderland and Manchester United, I expect them to do much better."
John Barnes is working as a pundit for ESPN, who are screening live Premier League games this season - including Manchester United v Tottenham on Saturday.
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