Last season Liverpool came as close as they ever have to finally capturing the Premier League title. They scored victories over United home and away (the 4-1 at Old Trafford would be the highlight of their season) as well as home and away victories over Chelsea. Unfortunately they would drop points against lesser teams and end the season four points behind champions Manchester United.
It was believed Liverpool would use the disappointment of last season to push for the title this season and many pundits tipped them as possible champions but after a defeat to Tottenham on the opening day things have gone downhill. Beyond a 2-0 victory over rivals Manchester United, Liverpool’s season has been a nightmare thus far and got worse when they crashed out of the Champions League last week.
But like the expression goes, if life gives you lemons then you make lemonade and it appears Rafa is in the kitchen.
Last season when Arsenal found themselves in a similar position, Wenger used it as a chance to cultivate the likes of Denilson, Song, Bendtner and Gibbs and how it has paid off as Denilson and Song have become important parts of the Arsenal team and Gibbs and Bendtner couldn’t get back from injury sooner for the Gunners. This seems to be the same practise of Rafa Benitez as the likes of David N’gog and Lucas have risen to the occasion.
If you had told a Liverpool fan that N’gog would be a stand in Fernando Torres, they would have at least raised their eyebrows but this season he has excelled, scoring the winner against Leeds in the Carling Cup, grabbing the second goal in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over United as well as a goal and winning a dubious penalty against Birmingham to earn Liverpool a 2-2 draw. At just 20 he has got his feet wet and one can only imagine how he will be next season with the experience he has picked up this term under his belt.
Lucas is another player that has benefitted, he has stepped into the team and his performances have improved vastly. He still has some way to go but with performances like the one he put in against Man Utd, it has become very apparent that he does have it in his locker and as the season goes on he will more than be able prove he is deserving of a place in the Liverpool squad.
Many Liverpool fans would like to see the likes of Pacheco and Kelly given a chance and now that the Fiorentina game does not hold the same significance as it could, it would be the perfect opportunity to bleed the new generation of Liverpool’s youngsters in (if Kelly is fit of course).
On the weekend Liverpool scored a morale boosting 2-0 victory over city rivals Everton in the Merseyside derby. Liverpool are now 5th and find themselves just 3 points off third place. If they can use being out of the Champions League against the likes of Chelsea, United and Arsenal, who will face a fixture build up later on in the season, Liverpool will look back at this period and not feel as bad as they may do now.