Liver Bird Flying High: Liverpool FC Top Of The League at The Half Way Point
2009 begins and we couldn't have asked for much more.
Liverpool currently find themselves at the Premier League summit. What a season it's been already.
We've already been on a whirlwind journey. Victory against our Mancunian rivals was well overdue and we managed to exorcise our Stamford bridge ghosts. Our good performances were summed up last week against Newcastle. Wasteful at times, but still cruising to a comfortable victory.
On the flip side, I still find myself confused when we drop silly points against the 'so called' lesser teams. Still, you can't win 'em all, as the saying goes.
Despite the points dropped and the inevitable blips, we do appear to be a class outfit this term. We seem to have developed some steel. A will to win and a throwback to the boot room era.
It's this attitude that has pulled us through in many games this season. A quality that champions must have.
I'm also impressed at the style of football we have begun to play. It's roots are planted deeply in Benitez soil, almost machine-like at times. But we also have the ability to turn it on. To step up a gear or two and turn on the flair.
Much of this is down to the introduction of Albert Riera and has coincided with a return to form from Xabi Alonso.
Riera is naturally a left sided player and is in the mould of your typical winger. He has the strength needed to survive in the Premier League and good flair and imagination. To top this off he has a clever football brain and I can only see him improving under Benitez.
Playing with the world class players currently at Anfield has brought out the best of him, something that couldn't be achieved during his time at City.
Alonso is like a new man this season. His passing is sublime at times and he practically ran the first half in the weekend cup game. If we are to maintain our current form and challenge the title until the end of the season, we must keep Alonso at Anfield.
A player that is sometimes overlooked and possibly under-appreciated by some is Pepe Riena.
For me, he is up there with the best goalkeepers in the world. I certainly couldn't name anybody worthy of replacing him.
The defence must feel less pressure knowing they have Pepe behind them. His first season was possibly his worst and did lead to undue criticism. Since then he's been collecting golden glove awards and earning respect, left right and centre.
Pepe can be for us now what Peter Schmeichel was for Manchester Utd in the 90's.
Aside from the players mentioned, I think we can safely say that Liverpool have quality all over the park. There's competition for places and we have coped well with injuries in key areas of the field, showing the depth we have (that some pundits still feel we lack).
We are no longer relying on the same players week in, week out. We now have a solid 'team' ethic.
Robbie Keane is finally proving the doubters wrong and with Torres, Skrtel and Aurelio just coming back from injury, I'm positive the best is still to come.
I am desperate for this to be the season we finally return to the pinnacle of English football. A place I feel we rightly belong. However, if for some reason we run close but fall short, I'm still happy at the sight of the best Liverpool team in well over a decade.
Not that I think we will be pipped of course. 19 years and our 19th title. Surely this is our season.
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