Fernando Torres scored his second successive Anfield hat-trick this week as Liverpool cranked up the pressure on Everton and Aston Villa in the race for fourth place in the EPL.
At just 23 years of age, Torres has taken to English football like a duck to water. Many were skeptical, observing his goalscoring record for Atletico Madrid, where he averaged 12-15 goals a season, with cynicism.
33 games and 24 goals later, Torres has silenced all but the harshest critics. Some, unbelievably, still contend that he only scores against weaker opposition—ignoring his goals against Chelsea, Marseille, and Porto.
This also ignores the fact so many other strikers fail to score any where near as frequently against even the weakest opposition.
While Liverpool fans lick their lips at the thought of Torres getting even better—it is after all only his first season in English football, and his first season in the Champions League—his fellow flyer Ryan Babel has made fewer headlines.
That is, until recently. Babel has started six successive games on the Liverpool left flank, and his performance in the recent win at Bolton earned him much praise from all media sources.
Babel has eight goals in his debut season, a decent return for a player who has frequently been substituted. The game at Bolton was his first 90 minutes for Liverpool, and while he has often frustrated, at just 21 years of age, there is much more to come from the former Ajaz whizz kid.
If you compare Babel to the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo (six goals in his debut Manchester United season, although just 18) and Robin Van Persie (11 goals in his debut Arsenal season at 21), it is clear that Babel has made a respectable impact. Liverpool fans will expect a rapid rise over the next few seasons.
Liverpool may have had a very up and down season, on and off the pitch. As takeover talk continues to surround the club, there are at least two reasons to be very optimistic about the future.
Babel and Torres may well turn out to be two of the best signings the club has made since the legendary John Barnes and Peter Beardsley joined the club in the summer of 1987.