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.

Gary Lineker
‘Classy’: Gary Lineker reacts to Kai Havertz’s display in Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace
Thomas Tuchel
Michael Essien makes Champions League prediction about Chelsea FC
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivers update on Amad Diallo for Man United fans
Paul Merson
Paul Merson sends message to Arsenal fans about Granit Xhaka
Michael Owen
Michael Owen reveals his prediction for Crystal Palace v Chelsea FC
Gary Lineker
‘Classy’: Gary Lineker reacts to Kai Havertz’s display in Chelsea FC v Crystal Palace
Thomas Tuchel
Michael Essien makes Champions League prediction about Chelsea FC
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delivers update on Amad Diallo for Man United fans
Paul Merson
Paul Merson sends message to Arsenal fans about Granit Xhaka
Michael Owen
Michael Owen reveals his prediction for Crystal Palace v Chelsea FC
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature
Top 50 Muslim footballers: Arsenal, Chelsea FC, Liverpool FC and Man United stars feature