Liverpool’s dreadful season has been punctuated by a series of false dawns; the most obvious of these being the wins over rivals United and Everton. They failed to take advantage of these wins and have lurched from one crisis to another, but last night’s win over Spurs gives Liverpool the opportunity to really kick on. Fans will be wary of optimism as the season has taught them that consistency is no longer something they can count on, it is just as likely that Liverpool will lose their next game and be back where they started.
The win gives Rafa Benitez’s side new hope in terms of accomplishing their adjusted goal of finishing fourth. They are now only one point behind Spurs in fourth and will believe that they are capable of fulfilling Benitez’s guarantee. Despite the early exit from the FA Cup and the concession of a late equaliser to Stoke, Liverpool are the form team in the Premier League. Since losing to Portsmouth they have picked up 10 points from their last 4 league games.
Their next fixtures are against Wolves and Bolton; sides that they should really be beating. Of course there is no certainty in this most topsy-turvy of seasons, but Benitez’s side will go into these games with growing confidence even if they are without Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. Their performance against Spurs was strong, they lacked a cutting edge in front of goal but created enough chances to give them hope for the future. Alberto Aquilani probably had his best game for the club while the importance of Albert Riera cannot be understated. The Spaniard was a big part of Liverpool’s successes last season and his absence has affected them badly.
In addition to their own strong performance, Liverpool’s luck also seems to be turning as they benefitted from a controversial offside decision that ruled out a Jermaine Defoe goal. After bemoaning his side’s luck with refereeing decisions in recent weeks, Benitez will not be complaining about that particular decision and small things like that can give a real boost to his side.
They are still a side lacking in quality when they are without their two stars, but the team showed good character against Spurs and should have enough to beat Wolves and Bolton. If they are unable to overcome these two relegation contenders, the confidence that has been growing could disappear quickly.