What a fabulous way to end 2008, there is so much to be positive about right now and the future looks very bright indeed. A wonderful Christmas period for Liverpool had everything that Reds fans could wish for, and more besides. It included eight goals, two crackers from Robbie Keane, dominant performances, Chelsea dropping points and most importantly, six points to send us three clear at the top of the league. One of the most impressive statistics after the Bolton game is that Liverpool went the entire calendar year of 2008 without a home defeat in the league.
One of the most exciting aspects for the end of the year has been the emergence of Emiliano Insua as a top class performer at left back. Injuries to Aurelio and Dossena gave Insua his chance to make a rare start in the league. He took his opportunity with aplomb and turned in a man of the match performance against Arsenal. He followed this with two more impressive and assured performances in the next two games against Bolton and Newcastle. In my opinion, Insua has done enough to push himself into the first choice spot at left back. He has to be ahead of Dossena at this moment and if he continues to impress into 2009, then Aurelio is certainly not guaranteed to get his place back when he is fit. Insua is only nineteen years old and the future looks bright for him at Liverpool. Left back has long been a problem position at Anfield and if Insua can continue at the rate he is going it will be a nice peace of mind for us as supporters. It may also end up saving the club money in the future, as the need to purchase anyone will not be necessary.
We find ourselves heading into the new year in the unusual position, lately anyway, of first place in the league. The big question the team needs to answer is regarding whether they can handle the pressure in the second half of the season. The Reds are top at the halfway stage of the season despite not playing anywhere near as well as we know they can play. All of a sudden, we have suddenly found form and started taking chances in front of goal. I believe we have players in the side that can carry us all the way to the finish line. The spine of Carragher, Gerrard, Alonso and Mascherano are four of the best players in the world all with a strong will to win. Robbie Keane has proven his quality at the highest level many times and he appears to be finally finding his feet at the club. We also have Torres coming back in January after a long period of rest and recuperation. He will be raring to go after missing so much in the first half of the season and he proved in the Euro Final that he doesn’t go missing at the big moments when it really counts.
With a mouth watering clash with Real Madrid to look forward to, as well as our best challenge in the league for many years, 2009 is shaping up to be very exciting. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt this optimistic about our chances of major silverware and right now the biggest challenge of all is keeping my feet on the ground.
It’s been an enjoyable 2008, let’s hope that 2009 is even better.