08 November 2007

Big wins and rotation

6-0 Derby:
Goals: Alonso 26’ 69’, Babel 45’, Torres 56’ 77’, Voronin 76’

Finnan Hyypia Agger Arbeloa
Pennant Alonso Mascherano Babel
Kuyt Torres

Subs: Benayoun for Pennant (61’); Voronin for Babel (73’); Sissoko for Mascherano (77’)

8-0 Besiktas:
Goals: Crouch 19’ 88’, Benayoun 32’ 52’ 56’, Gerrard 69’, Babel 78’ 81

Arbeloa Carragher Hyypia Aurelio
Benayoun Mascherano Gerrard Riise
Crouch Voronin

Subs: Babel for Aurelio (63’); Kewell for Voronin, Lucas for Gerrard (72’)

It’s one thing to get a big win once a season. It could be just a one-off occurrence where everything just clicks, like winning 7-0 in the FA Cup against a team that’s going to be relegated and is being booed by their own fans with every step.

But few teams win 6-0 and 8-0 in a little over 2 months. Even fewer do it with entirely different line-ups.

Only 4 players -- Reina, Hyypia, Arbeloa, and Mascherano -- started both matches, with Arbeloa at left back against Derby and right back against Besiktas. 3 others -- Babel, Benayoun, and Voronin -- featured in both. All in all, Liverpool used 21 players in the two games, with 7 different goal scorers. This is where I should make some smart-ass remark about rotation not working.

It’s the first stage of the process, but Benitez is starting to institute a ruthless streak in Liverpool fitting of his malevolent-looking goatee and the past Valencia teams frequently likened to “crushing machines.” Step one is being able put over-matched opposition to the sword.

And it’s only fitting that Liverpool is capable of doing it while utilizing the entire squad.

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