While a handsome win over Bournemouth won’t erase the pain Liverpool fans felt at losing to Manchester United, there were positives to be gleaned from both matches for the Reds.
Chief among those was perhaps the performances of Raheem Sterling in a striker role, as the youngster might prove a fine solution to Brendan Rodgers’ current biggest problem at Anfield.
Daniel Sturridge’s injury, Rickie Lambert’s tiredness and Mario Balotelli’s continuing mediocrity have left Liverpool short of firepower just before the hectic Christmas period.
Their next match is a home clash with Arsenal that the Reds are a substantial 9/5 to win, despite trouncing the Gunners 5-1 in the equivalent game last term.
The relatively long price is a reflection of Liverpool’s iffy form in front of goal this term, but Sterling’s well-taken brace against Bournemouth suggests their fortunes might be about to improve in that respect.
Clearly notching twice against the Championship leaders is not enough to prove Sterling is the next Thierry Henry, but there were also signs of a natural predatory streak even in the loss to United.
The youngster’s clever movement and pace saw him facing David de Gea one-on-one on three occasions at Old Trafford, with the Spaniard’s brilliance stopping him each time.
Those three missed chances don’t seem to have dented Sterling’s confidence, and if he continues to fashion such opportunities for himself the goals will undoubtedly come in the Premier League.
For the moment at least, keeping the 20-year-old at the forefront of his attack is Rodgers’ best option, as his movement is a major boon to Liverpool’s attacking midfielders, especially compared to the static Lambert and muted Balotelli.
After the match against Arsenal, the Reds’ Christmas schedule sees them travel to Burnley before hosting Swansea and Leicester.
It’s a favourable run of games that could see Liverpool clamber back into the top-four reckoning, but they’ll needs goals, and Sterling looks the best bet to provide them right now.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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