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September in review

To say the month started well would be an understatement. A thrilling, bristling performance, full of menace, against Derby produced six goals including a beauty from Ryan Babel sent Liverpool’s international players off on the international break in good form.

The break, which saw players go as far afield as Australia, seemed to dampen the players’ spirits and take away a lot of the momentum from the previous three games. When the Premier League resumed, it was with some lackluster performances against Portsmouth, although a point and a clean sheet at Fratton park is nothing to be ashamed of, and Birmingham.

A point in Portugal got the group stages of our European campaign off to an inauspicious start but the last two games seem to have reinvigorated the Reds. A thrilling game against Reading in the Carling Cup resulted in plenty of "blooded" youngsters and a hat-trick for Fernando Torres in a 4-2 win while Saturday saw us grind out a 1-0 win away to Wigan.

So, three wins and three draws with a goal difference of plus 9 isn’t a great September but it ain’t bad. In the competitions that count, we’re yet to concede a goal that wasn’t a penalty and this must surely stand us in good stead once the season starts a pace and our midfield clicks.

Player of the month – Torres. Five goals in three starts and, Wigan apart, the young Spaniard has looked a class above with some clinical finishes and flair a-plenty.

Warrior of the month - El Nino just edged out Monster Masch for my player of the month but Mascherano has had a great September and was a real warrior in midfield. I’d like to see him score more goals and get further forward but we’d definitely lose something defensively if he did that every game. Great, great player though.

Surprise of the month – Benayoun’s two cracking goals. We all knew he would be an important part of the rotation from his time at West Ham, but at this point he’s surpassed expectations. He could even be this season’s Luis Garcia – the man who scored so many important goals and changed so many games for us.

Unsung hero of the month – Arbeloa. I think a lot of people were worried about him being another Josemi when he was bought last season but he surprised a lot of people against Barcelona, scored that fabulous goal against Reading and was superbly consistent. A typical Rafa-type player – not surprising considering he played for Rafa the Gaffer as part of Real Madrid’s youth team. This season he’s played all across the back four and hasn’t looked out of place anywhere. I still worry about him as a centre-back but right now he’s the most under-rated player we’ve got.

Disappointment of the month – Babel. This comes with a bit of a caveat. The Ajax alum is still young and I still believe he’ll be a top player in a year or so. However, after starting brightly, he seems to have lost his way a bit. He has all the tools to terrify defenders, including a clinical right boot, but he needs the confidence to use his prodigious gift. I’d like to see him play more as a "flat track bully" against defenders with neither the pace nor the guile to stop him before he’s eased into the Premier League.

Wish of the month - for the defensive line to push further up the pitch, forcing the midfield closer to the forwards. This would, I believe, make us play at a greater pace, shifting the ball quickly and decisively. There's nothing worse than seeing Carra or Sami carry the ball 10-15m before hoofing it long down the channels.

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