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Return of the Kings?

Liverpool maintained their unbeaten start to the season by earning a deserved victory over Bolton, 3-1 at Anfield which sent them to the top of the Premier League for the first time in two years.

Jordan Henderson, Martin Skrtel and Charlie Adam got the goals as they comfortably saw off a Wanderers side who have made a decent start to the season themselves.

Even though the Merseyside outfit only found themselves at the head of the table overnight, I don’t think it will be the first time that we will see them there this season.

After spending big in January and this summer, Kenny Dalglish, or King Kenny to his fans, has managed to assemble a side which has taken the Reds from a sinking ship to a jet on a runway. Many are expecting Liverpool to really take off this year, and after a positive start it’s looking a good chance that they might just do that.

Despite letting a one-goal lead slip in their opener to Sunderland, Liverpool showed enough to suggest that this season could be ending in a far more fruitful manner than some of their more recent ones.

Winning away at Arsenal was massive for Dalglish’s side, not only did they end an 11 year hoodoo of leaving the red side of North London without three points but they also saw off potential title challengers and certain rivals for the top four. They may have had an extra man in the period that they scored their goals against a Gunners side on a low but you can only play what’s in front of you, and the away win always looked inevitable.

As for this weekend, they swept aside a strong Bolton team, with the away side’s consolatory goal coming in injury time. This was, again, without their talisman captain Steven Gerrard which begs the question; just how good could this Liverpool team be at full strength?

This fixture last year saw the Reds in mid-crisis under the management of Roy Hodgson. Just 35,000 turned up that day, 10,000 below capacity, which was Liverpool’s lowest Premier League attendance at Anfield in nearly seven years.

It could be seen as ironic that the man who scored the winner on that day, may be the reason for Liverpool’s change in fortune.

The £50 million made from the sale of former Kop favourite Fernando Torres was largely put towards the transfers of two great talents. The skillful Luis Suarez, who had come of the back of an impressive World Cup, was brought in from Ajax, whilst the young Andy Carroll became the club’s record signing at a time when his club performances were earning him the tag of England’s next big thing.

The club was just one big buzz by the end of January. With the fans getting their wish and having Dalglish back in charge, coupled with big-name signings, expectations at the club were even higher than usual.

Dalglish took over in the perfect conditions. He could do no wrong, taking over with Liverpool hovering on the edge of the relegation zone, the only way was up; he had nothing to lose.

There was still a job to do though and to his credit, the Kop legend transformed the club in unbelievable fashion.

Not only did the fans and players lift their performances and attitude in respect and under the order of the King but the new gaffer also managed to give the country a glimpse into the future of the club.

Youngsters like Jack Robinson, John Flannaghan and Jay Spearing started featuring predominantly in the second part of the season for the Reds, and the local lads did their boss proud, resulting in more game time for trio and growing trust from the boss.

The fact the Liverpool only just missed out on a Europa League spot after their torrid start to the campaign was incredible and fans certainly had a back-end of the season to enjoy after seeing off the top dogs such as Chelsea and both Manchester Clubs, not to mention getting a last minute point at Arsenal.

The club continued to ride that wave of momentum over the summer, with the Dalglish hype playing a huge part in attracting some of the most in-demand players to the club.

With the backing of the board, the Scot was given the funds to help target the clubs weakened areas. Having already sorted out the sides problems in attack in previous transfer window, King Kenny brought in arguably Aston Villa’s and Sunderland’s players of the season in the form of Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson respectively to give the Reds real strength on the wings.

Blackpool’s main man Charlie Adam was brought in to not only slog it out for a place in the centre of the park with Lucas and Gerrard amongst others, but to use his magic wand of a left boot to create chance after chance for Carroll and Suarez, as well as adding options from dead-ball situations.

Another void was filled at left back, with Jose Enrique joining old teammate Carroll in swapping Tyneside for Merseyside. Alexander Doni was also brought in as adequate backup for Pepe Reina. The imminent signing of Uruguay international Sebastian Coates and the potential return of Craig Bellamy would see Liverpool further strengthen their squad to levels that haven’t been matched in a number of years.

By Christmas time we will know if this Liverpool side is up to the challenge of going back on level terms with arch-rivals Manchester United on the number of league titles won.

Liverpool’s toughest spell of fixtures comes in February and early March where they host Spurs, Everton and Arsenal whilst having to travel to Manchester United and Sunderland.

If the club can see itself through this sticky patch of matches, then they have a real chance of challenging for title.

So far so good for this new and improved Liverpool side but who knows, maybe come the end of the season we’ll all be saying those words ‘All hail the King’.

Matt Cotton @FindingCotton

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