Liverpool 1 Everton 0: Rafa's & Liverpool's Turnaround Continues

Antony HerbertAnalyst IIIFebruary 6, 2010

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06:  Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool celebrates with his team mates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on February 6, 2010 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Hamish Blair/Getty Images

With another unspectacular but solid display today against their Merseyside rivals Liverpool have shown a continuation of their assertion that they are still one of the top four teams in the English premier league.

Their 1-0 victory over Everton was for the most part with just ten men and thus highlighted that although their opening half of the season was an unmitigated disaster, they still have the ability to overcome the likes of Tottenham, Aston Villa and Manchester City in the race for fourth.

With only a Europa League position now providing any glimpses of glory this season it must now be the central focus for Rafa Benitez’s men to achieve what has at times seemed unreachable; qualification for the Champions League.

Things did not look good just a couple of weeks ago when Liverpool’s two shining stars Torres and Gerrard were sidelined through injury.

Although Gerrard was quick to return it was Torres’s injury that seemed to cause the most concern as the team were left without their only saving grace for a continual flow of goals that could improve results.

Thankfully in the aftermath one player has stepped into the forefront with the goals required to elevate their position in the league. Unexpectedly this player was Dirk Kuyt who after being originally shipped to Liverpool amidst a flurry of promised goal scoring ability, ended up as a recurring substitute brought on to replace players in an appropriate position to be rested.

Kuyt especially in comparison to Torres was a player unable to create the sort of spark and tenacity that the supporters could relate to, and certainly one who lacked the production of fear into the oppositions minds.

So now it’s up to the team to continue to their run of undefeated games, now standing at seven in the league, in anticipation for the return of Torres in what will optimistically be a charging run to at least a fourth place finish and a possible triumph in the Europa League.  

The only fear is that with Rafa’s previous Champions League records, he may force too much emphasis on European glory as opposed to league glory.

After all Liverpool’s recent runs in the Champion’s league have often been at a detriment to their league campaign, and although last season appeared to portray something of a balance with the two competitions, their destruction at the start of this season undid everything achieved as progression beforehand.

The next two weeks are therefore essential to the outcome of the season for Liverpool. Away trips to Arsenal and Manchester City can either gift them the edge and opportunity to recover their race for fourth in the league or it could provide them with yet another dent to their concluding ambitions.

Two defeats would surely leave them quite a few points shy of their aim with only a handful of games left to play.  

With Europa League ties on either side of both games Rafa may need to make the bold decision of which target is more acceptable and relevant to the fans. A wrong decision, which you have to believe is to field a weakened team for the league matches, could provide the end to his managerial career once and for all at the Kop.

Supporters will just not tolerate a manager who forgets the history and reputation the club has built up as a challenging opponent in the English league.

So it is within his and his teams hands as to what will be done and whether a resolution to the seasons problems can entice positivity back to the watching spectators.

If results come their way you know that much of this seasons early failings will be forgiven even if not necessarily forgotten.