So, 15 days ago, our boys left White Hart Lane empty handed despite dominating the majority of the game. The fixture was a real six pointer and many felt it was a must win game, so after we lost, our fans felt disappointed and frustrated and rightly so. The mood was low because it seemed that no matter how well we perform in our games, we always seem to be left with the same old story at full time; played well, dominated the game, had chances but dropped points nevertheless.
14 games had passed and nothing seemed to be changing. Let’s not forget we had left ourselves with a mountain to climb in the Europa League too and our qualification into the next round rested entirely on our trip to Udinese a week later. We had to win to ensure qualification. Anything less could have meant an embarrassing early exit and given the frequency of our “same old” stories, our fans could be forgiven for being a bit worried.
After the Spurs game, I wrote a blog, during which, I pointed out that our December fixtures would be crucial and could in fact, determine our season.
270 minutes of football later and our situation looks completely different. Two consecutive league wins against Southampton and West Ham respectively have left our fans feeling a real sense of optimism. We may have only moved up two places in the league but those six points have made a world of difference. Had we lost both games, we would now be sitting one point clear of the relegation zone and the repercussions would not bare thinking about. Similarly, if we had drawn, we would only be three points clear. The fact we won both has left us just four points off 4th placed Everton….amazing when we consider we have had such a bad start to the season. It now feels like anything is possible.
Both wins were hard fought but extremely rewarding, particularly the West Ham game, where we fought back from 2-1 down to turn the game around and win 3-2 inside the last fourteen minutes. Our players showed great character and determination in their quest to get back into the game and it paid off. Rodgers showed bravery in his decision to bring on Joe Cole and Jordan Henderson, when the introduction of both players, particularly the former, may not have been the popular options amongst fans. Nevertheless, both changes had a positive impact on the game and Rodgers can only be commended for sticking to his guns despite the increasing pressure.
The fact that key player and top goal scorer Luis Suarez was suspended for the West Ham game made the victory that little bit sweeter because nobody thought our squad had any real substance without the influence of Suarez, including many of our own fans. Some people had written off our chances of getting the three points before the game had even kicked off, purely due to the fact that Suarez was unavailable. It was nice to prove everybody wrong. It was also nice to see the rest of the squad pull together without the influence of Suarez. The fact that we got the result with three goals away from home was an additional bonus, if a relief too.
Even in the Southampton game where Suarez was available, our only goal of the game and indeed the winning goal came from centre back Daniel Agger. This is what we have been missing earlier on in the season; other players chipping in with goals, so it’s great that we have had goals from elsewhere in the last two games. If this continues then the second half of our season will be very different to the first half.
We have Aston Villa and Fulham visiting Anfield in the next couple of weeks, followed by trips to Stoke City and QPR. All of these games are winnable. However, it is important we do not underestimate these teams because no game is easy in the Premier League. Still, we have already seen what a massive difference a couple of wins can make. If we can stay focused and continue our good form, get the goals needed and grab a few more wins from these fixtures, we will be giving ourselves a great platform to build from in the second half of the season then who knows, with effective use of the January transfer window too, a realistic challenge for 4th could become a reality.
In between those two league victories, we also managed to get that crucial win in Italy and progress into the next round of the Europa League, which was also a massive relief. We now await the results of the draw for the next round but I’m sure that when we do find out our opponents next Thursday, we will fancy our chances of progression.
We also found out that we are heading to Mansfield for the 3rd round of the FA Cup on the 6th January. This will be a tough tie and I’m sure Mansfield will be more than up for the challenge but we should have too much for them if we remain focused.
Amsterdam? Wembley? Top 4? A penalty for Suarez along the way? Who knows, if Joe Cole can get us a goal then maybe anything is possible after all!
I might be getting a little bit carried away there but seriously, it is amazing what a couple of wins can do for us and with the way we have performed all season, the wins had to come at some point. Hopefully now we can push on and kick start our season.
In the meantime, let’s support Brendan Rodgers and the lads, resurrect our famous Anfield atmosphere starting on Saturday against Villa and hopefully we will be rewarded with two more wins before Christmas.