On a day that ended in such a frustratingly familiar fashion, one of the lone causes for optimism was the return of Steven Gerrard. The captain's initial return effort earlier in the season was cut short, leaving Liverpool with the task of forming an identity that didn't involve the man who's been such an integral part of the club's success over the past thirteen years. There's an argument to be made for the fact that they actually started that task last season, but with only two starts in the 2011-2012 campaign, Gerrard's been an afterthought for most.
So that he came on to immediate effect yesterday was a sight for sore eyes, providing the class and quality that the club's so badly missed at times this season. That doesn't take anything away from those who have stepped up in his stead---Jordan Henderson's been particularly impressive and flourished in a more central role---but there's just no way to replace the impact that Steven Gerrard can have.
We'll probably all keep our optimism tempered for now, as the false dawn earlier this season is too fresh to allow us to plan for a future that definitely includes Gerrard. But taking into account the worrying self-consciousness that Liverpool's displayed this season, along with the lack of cutting edge, his return couldn't have come at a better time.
Now let's just hope it's the last return he has to make this season.
Video by GreenScouser via YouTube