Liverpool 2 West Ham 0: Three talking points as Sturridge returns
Three talking points as Daniel Sturridge helps to fire Brendan Rodgers' men to victory at Anfield
Sturridge return leaves writing on the wall for Balotelli
It had been 153 days and two setbacks in the making but Daniel Sturridge finally made his long-awaited Liverpool comeback and in some style. A rapturous standing ovation greeted the returning striker and a typically ruthless finish in a 22-minute outing was a welcome sight for the Anfield crowd have yearned for. However, questions over Mario Balotelli’s future refuse to disappear. His omission from last weekend’s FA Cup stalemate with Bolton due to a lack of form was followed by a dismal cameo in Tuesday’s League Cup semi-final exit at Chelsea. That Rickie Lambert, at 32, was named on the substitutes’ bench against West Ham ahead of the available Italian marksman tells its own story.
Unhappy anniversary for Carroll on Anfield return
An air of inevitability rang through Andy Carroll’s return to Merseyside, four years to the day since his doomed £35m transfer. He proved a bustling and menacing presence on his former stomping ground during the first half and regularly left a firm impression on Emre Can, first with an elbow that left the Reds midfielder turned centre-back requiring medical attention. But finding the target against his former club again proved a step too far for Anfield’s one-time no.9 as he was replaced by Carlton Cole on 63 minutes.
Liverpool’s identity crisis appears to be over
Brendan Rodgers used his programme notes to declare that Liverpool had ‘regained’ their playing identity and the ensuing evidence certainly backed up that claim. Philippe Coutinho’s vision and range of passing was the catalyst as Raheem Sterling broke the deadlock shortly after the interval. His contribution to Sturridge’s first goal since August was equally impressive. Ahead of next week’s Merseyside derby with Everton, the Reds’ creative renaissance is perfectly timed.