Despite missing four first team players, Liverpool were still able to get a win against Aston Villa at home. It's a hugely important win for the manager, who has been under an incredible amount of pressure after a string of poor results. The players also needed to gain some confidence and find a way to score goals again.
Enter Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool's talented-but-injury-prone star striker. On his third game back in the side after months of rehabilitation, Sturridge showed some of the magic that Liverpool fans are used to from him. He scored a brace and linked up well with his long-time teammate, Philippe Coutinho, as well as newcomer Danny Ings.
About his returning striker, Brendan Rodgers said in his post-match interview:
"If you’re going to compete at the top of the table, you need to have big quality and we have got some very good players here. But Daniel Sturridge has shown over his time here that he is a really top talent. And when you miss that type of quality out of your team, you can suffer for it.
"I thought he was outstanding today. He is probably disappointed he didn’t have a hat-trick, but his overall game and touch and two finishes were outstanding.
"And he showed a great combination with young Danny Ings, who obviously didn’t get a goal today but I thought he played his part up top with Daniel.
"They showed that understanding that good players do. Both can run in behind, both can come short and they pressed the game well. It was very good."
Sturridge isn't the only player that seemed to rise from the dead in this game. James Milner, who played a real stinker against Norwich City, rose to the challenge of wearing the captain's armband today, stealing Liverpool's first goal after less than two minutes and helped the attack with crisp, decisive passes in Villa's half.
Rodgers also had a few words of praise for the skipper, saying, "He’s a top-class professional. He has come here with much greater responsibility in the team, which was one of the big reasons why he wanted to come.
"It was only a matter of time before he got his goal – that’s what he’s done regularly in his career. It was a wonderful finish off his left foot and that gave us a good start in the game."
Philippe Coutinho played deeper than he has been, thanks to Liverpool employing two capable strikers up top, and his pressing and work rate off the ball were impressive. Lucas Leiva, who was nearly sold off in the summer transfer window, put in a vintage performance that, despite Sturridge's two goals, may have made him man of the match.
The defense again was shaky, allowing in two goals for a total of nine conceded in the last four league matches. However at this point, a win is a win, which is something that Brendan Rodgers, of all people, can appreciate. He hailed the team's effort, saying, "It was a really good performance in terms of the creativity and effort the players put into the game. I thought they were absolutely outstanding. It was a really good win for us."
It was a good win, and it was a win that was truly necessary. With the Liverpool derby coming next weekend, across the way at Goodison Park, the team needs all the confidence it can get to face their in-form rivals. Whether this victory will help the season kick on remains to be seen, as does whether or not Brendan Rodgers retains his position as manager of Liverpool Football Club.
But those are concerns for tomorrow. Right now we can enjoy a victory that actually felt like winning and let this weight lift off our shoulders a bit.