Reasons to be cheerful 1, 2 , 3!
1. Moyes tactics spot on from start to finish:
Learning from his mistakes in containing and showing 'respect' to the Big Three
Donovan stretching the ageing Neville
Bilyaletdinov cutting in from the right (useless from the left)
5 men across the middle
Johnny back and Yobo out
Substitutes at the right time
Pressing from the start right to the end
2. Players coming back to form
Osman: providing a real cutting edge and giving us more momentum in midfield, tackling better than any midfielder and skill is back.
Arteta: has been allowed to regain match fitness in big games without causing us too much damage.
Rodwell: reprieved and relieved with "Gerrard" goal.
Bilyaletdinov: undoubted ability needs to be allowed to grow into the team now. Heitinga: could he be the Number 1 Number 5?
The claim that "February could make or break our season" could have haunted David Moyes. Now, with the impetus of players returning and the confidence of knowing we can match the best, the task on Thursday doesn't seem so difficult, providing we stick to what we're good at: high tempo, right down the throat playing on the front foot with the confidence to spread it around.
We seem to have a harder time against the smaller teams - Hull away, Birmingham at home and a couple of poor games against the other lot - so let's hope Sporting Lisbon (who are not as good as Everton by any stretch of the imagination) don't poor water on what could be a great March.
If I was Moyes, I'd give the Yak and Vaughan a chance to restate their claim for a place and hope they do what Ossie has done - not been nervous of those ahead of him but made it difficult for Moyes to drop him. Or will Big Vic be allowed his chance for forgiveness by throwing him on for 20 minutes?
By the way, Liverpool might turn their nose up at the Europa League, but we should make sure we don't waste a great opportunity for more fantastic European nights. This could be the start not the finish!