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Rodgers Looking Back to Performance against Tottenham

Brendan Rodgers underlined the importance of winning on the weekend after recent results and is looking to the performance against Tottenham as the level Liverpool should look to after the international break.

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Jamie McDonald

The win against West Bromwich Albion relaxed nerves ever so slightly with everyone associated with the club. It has been a disappointing start to the season. Looking at the opening fixtures in August and September, one would have thought that getting through the first three games with six or seven points would be the platform Liverpool needed.

However, victories over Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur combined with a solid showing in defeat at Manchester City weren't followed up with convincing performances in all competitions. Results suffered and questions arose. The first international break of the season was the turning point. Just before Liverpool's players sojourned to represent their respective nations, Liverpool produced a showing that was very much from last season's book.

A confident win away from home against a decent opponent, a clean sheet, a comfortable winning margin, intensity, pressing, swift counters, chances created, and the odd defensive mishap were all there. Liverpool, it seemed, had found that groove and would resume work in September. The fixtures looked right for the side to gain momentum in the Premier League and various other commitments in the League Cup as well as the Champions League would help. The opponents merited respect, sure, but Liverpool would be okay.

Much discussion has surrounded Brendan Rodgers and his role in Liverpool's patchy start to the season. Yet the Liverpool manager understood the significance of victory against an in-form West Brom side. Some may have feared that the Baggies would be troublesome opponents as they proved to be in Rodgers' first season at the club. Fortunately, the home side prevailed and the significance was not lost on the Antrim man.

"It was a massive win for us, on the back of a difficult week and result in midweek, and not being at our best over previous weeks," the Rodgers informed the club's official website. "We were playing against a team that were high in confidence coming here, that defends really well and keeps clean sheets. So it was a big win for us. Now, after the international break, hopefully we'll have a fully fit squad back."

With the return of a full complement of options for Liverpool to choose from, Rodgers is looking to go back to late August in his quest to move forward: "I go back to the Tottenham game as probably the game when I had what I would consider to be the squad. In that game, we showed our potential - we could play in a certain way, I could make changes and still keep the efficiency of the team. We haven't been able to do that and obviously we've had games coming thick and fast. It has been difficult. But it has allowed me to play other players and look at other players.

"I know that once they start to click, and the new players adjust to being a Liverpool player and the players that were here find a way and philosophy to work with them, we're going to be a very good team again. And once the injured players return to the group, it puts us back in a good moment."

That's not difficult to argue with, but questions surround the system Rodgers will use to return to the level seen against Spurs. Will the diamond formation in midfield be utilised with two strikers working in tandem? Perhaps it is the return of Daniel Sturridge that will provide the manager with greater confidence to use two strikers. Mario Balotelli certainly needs the help, but the performance against Tottenham did happen. Liverpool were superior by an impressive degree and after showing signs of promise against Manchester City, many fans would have felt confident of finishing in the top four.

It seems so long ago, but with games "coming thick and fast", there'll be quite a few chances for Liverpool to build momentum. A general feeling around the club and amongst fans can turn so quickly. That's the nature of football. Witness the quick change among Adam Lallana's detractors after just a few bright performances. Returning players will help, of course, but Liverpool have at least shown evidence of the level needed to thrive. If Liverpool can get back to the intensity and cohesion displayed at White Hart Lane, the season will provide little to worry about.

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