They say all good things must come to an end, and Liverpool fans are hoping their team’s ending of Chelsea’s 86-match home unbeaten run heralds the start of a new golden era of their own.
The league win at Stamford Bridge was a long time coming for Liverpool and although both managers were reluctant to overplay the result after the game, it has sent a shockwave through the rest of the Premiership.
Could this be Liverpool’s year? It didn’t look too hopeful for them a few weeks ago, what with the off-field issues surrounding the American owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks and the usual dissenting voices unhappy with Rafa Benitez’s tinkering with the team and seeming inability to win the league. The euphoria of beating Manchester United was followed a week later by a goalless draw against Stoke at Anfield, and it appeared the frustration of the past few seasons was set to be repeated. That seems however to have been a isolated blip as Liverpool have won six of their seven games since then and now sit three points clear at the top of the Premiership.
The spine of the team is looking impressive. Reina, Carragher, Gerrard and Torres are formidable and even without the Spanish frontman, they could have won by a larger margin on Sunday. The acquisition of Riera has added much needed width on the left, Kuyt is ever willing and hard working while Keane now seems to have found his feet.
The owners have stuck with Benitez and that managerial stability could now be paying off in terms of the Premier League. His tactics were spot-on against Scolari and his team responded with a committed performance. The return of Sammy Lee as assistant coach in May has brought back a touch of the old boot room feel and the former Bolton coach is already fulfilling his brief of helping Benitez make the same mark on the league as he has on the European stage.
All the pieces of the jigsaw seem to be in place but Liverpool are still vulnerable to injuries to key players, while there is always the spectre of the American owners’ debt in the background. If they can stay lucky in terms of injuries and suspensions and Benitez continues to focus his energy and the players’ minds on on-the field issues, it could be their year. They must now ensure they follow the win over Chelsea with three points against Portsmouth on Wednesday.