Early in December, Liverpool made a change that had been a long time in coming. Brendan Rodgers took a side that had failed to live up to expectation in the opening months of the season and shook it up. A change of formation here, the dropping of a major signing there, and a shifting of the captain over thataway. And suddenly, Liverpool looked a capable side.
Not one that would set the league on fire as they had in their title run the season before, perhaps, but a side that could at least be counted on to put in solid performances and come away with three points more often than not. The goals may not have been there, but for many, the hope was that when Daniel Sturridge returned from injury those would begin to come as well. As it turns out, that’s exactly what has happened.
"You just have to watch him play to see how important he is," said left back Alberto Moreno, one of the pieces of Liverpool’s improved puzzle over the last few months. "After being injured for so long, he scored a goal with his second touch. You can see the type of footballer he is from that. Sturridge is a top player, and everyone on the team was wishing he returned as soon as possible—and he’s done brilliantly."
The 22-year-old fullback, who has grown increasingly important to Brendan Rodgers’ side following the shift to a three-man back line that allowed his offensive abilities and blistering pace to shine from a wingback role, has also been impressed by the contributions Jordon Ibe. Few expected Ibe to have a first time role with Liverpool this season, but he has impressed since being recalled from his loan with Derby.
"He is still so young and is showing his value already," said Moreno. "He’s young, strong and fast—and he can play brilliantly using both feet. As well as that, he is from the Liverpool Academy, and the fans enjoy having a first team player from the club’s academy. I bet he will turn out to be a very important player for Liverpool and a great footballer."