The decision to recall Jordon Ibe on loan, a seemingly insignificant move just a few weeks ago, has a chance to become one of the biggest turning points in Liverpool's season. The 19-year-old has burst onto the scene with two consecutive impressive displays against Everton and Tottenham, and he'll have a chance to elevate his game to an even greater level in the coming months as he adjusts to the pace of the Premier League.
With injuries proving to be a constant irritant to this Liverpool team, Ibe's versatility provides a big tactical boost for Brendan Rodgers.
"If you look at the system we are playing now, Jordon can play in any one of the front five positions - outside, in behind or through the middle and that's one of the reasons we brought him back," said Rodgers. "I like to have a small squad of players who are multi-functional and can understand the game tactically. That allows me the flexibility to change systems freely in a game or at the beginning of a game and that's the types of players I try to have."
"He is a really talented footballer with a bright football brain and he can play in any one of those [front five] positions. I think his favourite position - and that's what you've always got to look at - is that he is a player who wants to be wide and set up the duel for a one v one. His positioning has improved and that gives him the freedom to go inside and outside."
Against Everton and Tottenham, Ibe drove right at defenders down the right wing, demonstrating his aforementioned one-one-on-one dribbling prowess. But what was perhaps more impressive was that he consistently made the right decisions with the ball at his feet, which had been an area of concern before he headed out on loan earlier this season.
Liverpool have a nice rotation in the attacking midfield right now, and Ibe figures to be a major part of that. Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho can provide composed playmaking ability, but it's also important to have attackers who can create chances with sheer pace and fearlessness. Ibe gives Liverpool some of that magic, even when Sterling has to miss time through injury.