Brendan Rodgers will have been delighted to have finally got his first domestic win at Liverpool last night in the Capital One Cup, and the performances of two new signings in particular will have encouraged.
Oussama Assaidi - a Moroccan international signed from Feyenoord - caused West Brom's defence endless troubles with pace, skill and a desire to beat his man all evening. The lively performance indicated that Rodgers appears to have picked up a fantastic bargain having laid out just £3 million for the winger.
Another that shone was Nuri Sahin, the on loan Real Madrid midfielder, opening his tally for Liverpool with two goals in response to West Brom's early opener. Whilst his first effort required an element of luck as the ball slipped under Ben Foster from 35 yards, the audaciousness and confidence to even strike from that distance showed great self belief in his abilities. The second, a tap in, was also a promising sign as the Turkish international displayed an awareness to position himself in good attacking areas to score the easier opportunities that arise.
Having made a disappointing Reds debut in a 2-0 loss to Arsenal at Anfield on the 2nd September, a match in which Liverpool's midfield was completely overrun, Sahin has found himself left out of Premier League action as an unused substitute since. However the confidence levels will have no doubt been given a much needed boost following last nights display against Premier League opposition and Sahin will hope it is a catalyst to restart his career after a disappointing previous 12 months.
After making a huge impression in the Bundesliga for Borussia Dortmund - where Sahin was named the leagues player of the year at the end of his final season - a move to Spanish giants Real Madrid followed last summer. Tipped as the future successor to Xabi Alonso, due to his eye for a pass and ability to dictate play, Sahin's career looked destined for greatness.
Sadly his first season in Madrid was littered with various injuries throughout the season. In the rare occasions that Sahin was fit, he was unable to break into an established successful midfield that comprised of such globally recognised talent as Khedira, Alonso, Ozil, Kaka & co.
Due to the strength in depth of Madrid's midfield it was therefore decided that Sahin would go out on loan this year to seek greater first team opportunities and gain match fitness. This summer brought interest from Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool and despite Arsenal's apparent closeness to sealing the Turkish internationals signature, Sahin opted to join Brendan Rodgers' tactical revolution at Anfield.
Having taken a month to settle in at the club, it now looks as if last nights performance will elevate Sahin in to the first team for Pools next home game at Carrow Road to face Norwich, although it always appeared likely in the light of Jonjo Shelvey's suspension after being sent off against Manchester United last weekend.
Taking into account Liverpool's current midfield situation, if Sahin was to step in against Norwich it would certainly be a sign of intent from Rodgers. Although able to operate in a deep lying playmaker role, similarities can be drawn between Sahin and fellow new signing Joe Allen, both players able to pick out a fine pass but not exactly renowned for their steel and tackling attributes. Unfortunately for Rodgers, that cannot be helped due to Lucas' absence with injury and youngster Jay Spearing out on loan, and it therefore appears that the only option is to attack. A dangerous predicament perhaps but an exciting prospect for the neutrals.
Against Arsenal a trio of Allen, Gerrard and Sahin found the gunners midfield too much to handle and the failure to have a ball winter in midfield meant that it was hard for the trio to really get a hold on the game. With all respect to Norwich, Liverpool will be less worried of being out battled at Carrow Road, but they must still stay aware of the dangers of a Canary midfield that has performed admirably so far this season.
Last nights game at West Brom demonstrated that Rodgers has an idea of how to play Sahin and get the best out of him. The passing range, dribbling skills and composure are all elements in footballers that Rodgers loves the opportunity to work with and in Sahin he has all the raw talent to use his coaching tools on. Tiki-Taka football was made for players like Sahin.
Sahin's first goals since joining Liverpool this Summer will have no doubt relinquished any fears amongst Liverpool fans that they could have another Alberto Aquilani on their hands. If he can translate such assured performances to the Premier League, we could finally see Liverpool return to the top table with the big boys of English football
image: © peterfuchs