Torres’ instant impact & Gerrard’s thunderbolts as Liverpool lay the foundations in 2007/08

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Off the back of a defeat in the European Cup final, Rafa Benitez’s men continued to battle on multiple fronts throughout the 2007/08 campaign.

After falling short in their second European Cup final in three seasons and finishing the previous Premier League season in third place, the Reds continued their upward trajectory under the Spaniard.

While it did not translate to silverware, in the end, the 2007/08 campaign was which was helped send the Reds to the precipice of glory in the campaign to follow.

The summer of 2007 saw European Cup-winning heroes in Jerzy Dudek and Luis Garcia bid farewell, while Robbie Fowler also waved goodbye for the second and final time.

But it was the incomings which would end up making the headlines, with one, in particular, proving decisive in finding the net with relative ease.

Vitally, Liverpool upped their goals scored in the league from 57 to 67 in 2007/08, with 15 different players hitting the scoreboard throughout the 38-game campaign as they finished in fourth place.

 

El Nino Hits Anfield

Liverpool, England - Sunday, August 19, 2007: Liverpool's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring the opening goal against Chelsea during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the summer of 2007, Liverpool splashed the cash for a club-record fee, at the time, of £20.2 million to land Atletico Madrid’s 23-year-old centre-forward – it would prove to be a bargain.

And he needn’t long to justify his price-tag as his Anfield debut against Chelsea signalled the first of his 24 Premier League goals that season and of his 33 across all competitions.

A composed and clinical strike which defined his Liverpool career, with his jinking run at Derby following soon after as he opened his account on the road.

There was no denying Anfield had secured a special talent and the fact he was voted second in the Football Writer’s Player of the Year behind only Cristiano Ronaldo spoke volumes of his undeniable ability.

He finished the campaign as the clubs leading goalscorer in his debut season, but it took less than half of that time to capture the hearts of the Liverpool faithful.

 

The Reds Splash the Cash

MILAN, ITALY - Tuesday, March 10, 2008

He was not the only notable incoming, however, as Liverpool’s new owners were willing to splash the cash.

Tom Hicks and George Gillett bought the club from David Moores for a reported £350 million in February 2007 and while their legacy would not end up to be a fond one, they did back Benitez throughout the season.

Andriy Voronin, Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun and Lucas Leiva all arrived in the summer for a combined £21. 5 million alongside Torres, while Javier Mascherano (loan) and Martin Skrtel joined in January.

Liverpool’s activity injected renewed optimism for the season ahead and the seven incomings would combine for 263 games and 62 goals across all competitions.

Torres, Babel, Mascherano and Benayoun quickly made themselves unexpendable, with the latter etching his name into history after scoring a hat-trick in the record 8-0 win over Besiktas in the Champions League, while few can forget Mascherano’s rocket against Reading.

Players who after one season in the side were primed for an assault on the title the following campaign.

 

Gerrard’s Thrilling Thunderbolts

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring his sides second goal of the game with Fernando Torres

The sight had become a customary one over the years, but it did not mean the thrill and disbelief waned every time Gerrard thundered a strike into the net from a dead ball situation.

The skipper established a scintillating partnership with Torres but he himself also scored 11 league goals in 2007/08, 21 overall, and three stood out above the rest.

The opening day clash at Aston Villa, who Gerrard has scored against more than any other team (13), saw a simply stunning effort nestle into the top corner from 22 yards to win the game.

Then there was the Newcastle thunderbolt from 25 yards which Shay Given had no chance to save, not to mention the low powerful drive against Arsenal on his 400th appearance for the club.

Take your pick!

 

The Ever-Present Carra

Liverpool, England - Saturday, October 20, 2007: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher celebrates beating Everton 2-1 during the 206th Merseyside Derby match at Goodison Park. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his 11th season, Jamie Carragher notched his 500th appearance for Liverpool against Luton in the FA Cup – where was handed the captain’s armband for the occasion.

And it was another campaign whereby his powers of consistency came to the fore, playing 55 games in all competitions and missing just three in the Premier League.

It was a tally surpassed by no other Liverpool player, and incredibly it was the seventh time in eight seasons where he eclipsed the 50-game mark in one season – which he then also followed up in 2008/09 and 2009/10.

No wonder many ‘dreamed of a team of Carraghers’.

 

Held to a Point

While Benitez’s men had succeeded in reducing the number of defeats from 10 to four compared to the previous season, draws continued to be their bugbear.

The Reds had to settle for a point on 13 separate occasions, the most of the top six in the top-flight and seven more than winners Man United.

On six occasions, Liverpool surrendered a lead to their opposition to walk away with a draw, often characterised by a first-half lead which would be relinquished deep into the second 45.

A further five ended scoreless, primarily against middle of the table sides, where all but one were on the road.

Liverpool had notably turned a corner in their level of performances and organisation but it was their inability to find a way to win which proved detrimental in 2007/08 and costly in their pursuit of the title in 2008/09.

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