Raheem Sterling has been Liverpool's best player to date this season, which speaks both to his maturation and development as well as the fact that the squad as a whole haven't been very good. He's been excellent regardless, notching three goals in the Premier League and cementing his place as the most important player in what's been a stop-start early going for Liverpool's attack.
That he played the entirety of the penalty shootout win over Middlesbrough on Tuesday proved mildly concerning, then, as he'd already featured for 90 minutes against West Ham on Saturday and was roundly expected to play a starring role in tomorrow's Merseyside derby. He likely still will, of course, but worries about his fitness are justified regardless of how often Brendan Rodgers reminds us of his age and endurance.
Concerns about any potential dropoff due to too many minutes aside, Sterling is looking forward to tomorrow afternoon's meeting with Everton, and in the buildup he's noted the need for Liverpool to recapture the mentality that saw them blow through their visitors in February's demolition:
"It was a great game - the scoreline blew everyone away. That's the quality we have in the team. Hopefully we can go out and show people that we've got the same mentality we did when we played them last year at Anfield and win the game. I don't think it'll need any firing up, every derby speaks for itself - they're always cracking ones. This one will be no different and hopefully we can come away with the three points at the end of the game."
That mentality was, like so much of Liverpool's form over the final months of the 2013-2014 season, one of complete and utter destruction. Everton hung with them for the opening twenty minutes, but from there it was all Liverpool all the time, with Steven Gerrard scoring the opener, Daniel Sturridge netting twice (and missing a penalty), and Luis Suarez capping off the victory early in the second half with a run from midfield and calm finish past Tim Howard.
Recapturing that mentality, and even a sliver of that performance, would be most welcome, as it's that mentality--and a good bit of quality--that has yet to show up with any sort of consistency this season.