Liverpool played a crazy, ugly, lucky, frustrating, and confusing match today, but they came away from it with a win, as well as a handful of quality individual performances.
One of those was from Raheem Sterling, recently in the news not for his play on the pitch, but for the controversy around him telling Roy Hodgson that he was worn out and in need of a rest. Sterling seemed relatively energetic today, however, putting in his first shift on the pitch in awhile that actually looked like what we've grown used to from the young winger.
Brenan Rodgers took full note of Sterling's play today, who could hardly stop praising the England international after the match. "I thought his cleverness and brightness led to the first goal," Rodgers told reporters. "The best players come alive when the game goes dead, whether it's a throw-in or in the game. Some players look for a rest or try to get organised, but the bright players come alive."
Sterling played a big role in Liverpool's opening goal, the bizarre Richard Dunne own goal, and Rodgers didn't hesitate to point it out even if it didn't wind up as a statistic. "[Sterling] spotted it, played it early: it was a great run from Glen Johnson to invite the quick ball [from Raheem], and obviously a great cross that the defender turned in.
Rodgers was also quick to note how Sterling was part of Liverpool's other goals as well. "[The] breakaways for the other two, they are just all about his speed, his technique, his courage to carry the ball, run with the ball. It was great courage and cleverness from him today."
Perhaps some of this is just a manager sticking up for a player under storm, but it's certainly hard to deny that Sterling played very well today. He certainly had some shaky moments today as well, but the fact is that Liverpool may not have scored any goals today without Sterling, so crucial was his involvement. Hopefully this helps put the "rest-gate" controversy to bed.