13 months ago, Liverpool was sitting on top of the English Premier League. Back then I was not really convinced the club had the players to maintain its challenge for the championship and now we know they fizzled. Yesterday, the club was again on top but after dropping a game for the first time this season it is now second in the league table. Losing 1-2 away to a resurgent Spurs after dominating much of the game sparked that "...here we go again" feeling amongst fans. However this time around the general consensus seems to be that Liverpool will bounce back quickly. This is only because Rafa Benitez now appears to have the depth in his squad to finally vindicate his much critcized rotation policy.
Benitez has stubbornly stuck to his policy of not playing his best players in successive games, opting instead to "rotate" his squad around automatic choices Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reyna, and Jaime Carragher. Much of the team's problems with confidence had been due to its inability to get desired results against lesser teams even immediately after beating some of the world's best. Last night was a case in point. This inconsistency has been exasperating for the fans who attribute it directly to Rafa's rotation policy.
However, this season the team seems able to maintain its shape and playing style even with Rafa's continued tinkering with permutations. I can finally see the re-emergence of the Liverpool style of play characterized by the successful Liverpool teams of the pre-90s; Rafa is after all reputed to have encyclopedic knowledge of Liverpool FC! He appears to have found the depth.
Another positive dimension in the Liverpool game this season has been the ability to snatch a result in the last 10 minutes. I believe this has to do with the team's improved ability to get goals and being able to continually field 11 players who are comfortable on the ball and can maintain a pattern of play throughout 90 minutes. Will we get anywhere this season? If we are on top after Christmas, I believe we will go all the way.