Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes the time to judge his side will not come until the last two months of the season.
Inconsistency has dogged the Reds throughout the season, highlighted perfectly by their last four matches which saw them lose at home to Aston Villa - who have since gone into freefall - thrash Fulham, lose woefully at Stoke and cruise to victory at bottom club QPR.
"This is a period of time where you have to keep your head down and work hard and give the players every chance to perform," said Rodgers. "The second half of the season, and in particular the last 10 games, I believe you are working to because that is the business end when things are decided."
He added: "When you arrive at that period you want to get yourself in a good position to challenge, whether that is in the league or cup competitions.
"We can still achieve our objectives this season so when you can do that going into the second part of the season it gives you real hope."
Liverpool have been waiting to finalise a deal for Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge but they will not officially be completed before the visit of Sunderland.
Blackpool winger Tom Ince has also been linked with a return to the club he left in the summer of 2011 but those negotiations are proving more difficult.
Aside from that Rodgers is not planning a huge amount of business as he knows there is not a lot of money to go around.
odgers admits it is always difficult trying to secure significant signings in January but he is happy with the backing he is getting from owners Fenway Sports Group.
"Even if managers have a player they think they might lose they don't want to lose him in January, they at least want to get him through to the end of the season," he said. "The support the club will give us will be excellent. The owners have been great and I have no complaints in terms of where we are as a club at this time."