One good performance against a team likely to be fighting for their top-flight lives at season's end does not signal a renaissance, so it is important to exercise caution when evaluating Liverpool's win over Sunderland. It's also important to not be forcefully ignorant to the very real positives that did emerge as part of one of the better collective displays on the season despite the narrow scoreline. Up and down the team sheet there were a string of excellent showings, and while there was some healthy debate as to the man of the match, few performances were more exciting than that of 20-year-old Lazar Markovic.
It has not been an easy transition for the Serbian winger, who found himself struggling to make an impact in limited time through a fall stretch that was plenty difficult for the squad as a whole. His quality didn't disappear, but his ability to have an influence on the match certainly did, and his confidence faded after promising early cameos against Manchester City and Tottenham.
He's gradually worked his way back into the starting eleven, however, featuring primarily in a wingback role as Brendan Rodgers shifted his personnel and tactics around in an effort to get Liverpool's season back on track. It has, for the most part, worked a treat, with today's performance against Sunderland his best by some stretch.
From the first minute he was off and running, getting forward at will and drawing what should have been a penalty inside three minutes. His first Premier League goal came five minutes later, followed shortly by an audacious leaping half-volley that rattled the crossbar, and he spent most of the first half dominating Sunderland's left flank in attack and, when needed, defense. A second-half shift in positioning saw his mark on the match fade slightly, but on the whole, it was as strong a display as we've seen from the summer signing.
There should be plenty more to come, as his confidence has clearly rebounded and he'll only continue to improve as he becomes accustomed to Liverpool and the Premier League. He has the makings of a special, special player.
Video by MrBoywunder