Saturday's derby victory over Everton was about as pretty as Sotiris Kyriakos' sweat-ridden ponytail.

Nevertheless it was the kind of battling performance that has encaptured Liverpool's recent run and resulted in the return of the clean sheets.

Liverpool's never-say-die attitude, summed up by Dirk Kuyt and the faultless stand-in right back Javier Mascherano, saw them through against an in-form Everton side.

It was a tribute to the newly found definsive solidity that the visitors never looked like breaking down the reds, even with ten men on the pitch.

While Emiliano Insua still looks on edge there is no doubt that the solid foundations that have always cornerstoned Rafa Benitez's reign as Liverpool manager are starting to re-appear.

The zonal-marking of last season was working again. Everton notorious for their ability from set pieces (especially the dangerous Cahill) never got a sniff from dead ball situations. In fact it was Liverpool, not known for their goals from corners, who captilised from a set play.

The second half of last season saw Liverpool play some marvellous football, not least the 4-0 win over Real Madrid, but after this season's horrific start it has been back to basics.

A trait Rafa Benitez often looks for in his signings is work rate, and that has never been more apparent than right now.

Mascherano, Lucas, Kryiakos and Kuyt, all Benitez signings and all grafters in their own right. Right now Liverpool are preferring substance over style and while it may not be pretty, the team are starting to churn out results again.

With Liverpool now in the coverted fourth spot they face two crucial fixtures that could certainly shape the rest of the campaign.

The midweek trip to Arsenal will be tough, that goes without saying, but Liverpool must take heart from the blueprint laid down by Manchester United last weekend. If Liverpool can come out of the two upcoming games (Arsenal(a), Man City(a)) undefeated I think most supporters would believe that fourth place is achievable.