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Liverpool Finally Have the "Mental Fitness" That's Been Missing

A season full of improvements for Liverpool has led to cautious optimism, and Brendan Rodgers has hailed last weekend's victory at Stoke as another indicator that things are heading in the right direction.

Laurence Griffiths

It's hard to shake the feeling that at some point--likely some point very soon--the floor's going to crumble beneath Liverpool. Solidly into January, the club are competing near the top for the first time since the 2008-2009 season, but it still feels too soon, too delicate to even mention. It will become a shambles soon because it has to. That's what we know about Liverpool, or at least the Liverpool that we're familiar with over the five years.

But we're also getting familiar with a slightly different Liverpool, one that's apparently not as fragile as their previous iterations. This season more than any other in recent memory we've found ourselves discussing matches Liverpool would have lost/drawn/come away from weeping, including the completely bonkers 5-3 win last weekend at the Britannia.

For Brendan Rodgers that victory, crazy as it was, set a new standard:

"I am sure people sat at home at half-time were thinking 'this is a true test' but in the second half we demonstrated emphatically how our game is improving on the pitch - but equally important was the mental personality and fitness. I look at it as a game similar to the one at Tottenham (a 5-0 win), a game which sets up a standard for us.

"At Tottenham it was a wonderful footballing display. Stoke away, in the situation we were in, was a great benchmark of our mental fitness. What it gives you is that great belief. We go into any stadium without the fear to play, whatever the opponent. You are not going to win the game purely on ability. There are going to be games when you are not playing as well and you have to find a way to get a result - and that was last weekend. Psychology is a massive part, at the elite level of sport it is the edge, and that type of performance and result bodes well in the coming months because each game is very important."

He makes a clever point in lumping those two matches together; the win at Spurs will be the high-water mark for some time, as it was as close to perfect from a Liverpool perspective that we've seen in some time, and the topsy-turvy win at Stoke was as good an example as any of the would have lost/drawn last season type of match. The goal now is that both occur with more regularity than we're used to, and that when the squad can't rely on one, the other will see them through.

All of which is to say I'm still panicked about tomorrow, and nobody can change my mind, but thanks for trying Brendan Rodgers.

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