Brendan Rodgers’ side are unbeaten in nine league games, with their last defeat coming away at Old Trafford. They have won six of those games, only dropping points to Arsenal, Everton and Leicester. Midway through December, the Reds looked truly out of the race, but after that run, they are right in the thick of it. Coming up to a massive run of games that will see them play Southampton and City, with the return leg against Besiktas sandwiched in between, Liverpool are on a high. The only result that has gone against them so far this year was the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, but even then, the manner of that defeat should give the Reds encouragement.
Oh how they’ve missed him. While Daniel Sturridge was absent, Liverpool’s front line had become a running joke in the league. The trio of Rickie Lambert, Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli had scored a grand total of three league goals before Sturridge’s return. He is the type of player that has been missing for Liverpool. He is a goal-scorer, as shown by his 24 strikes last season, and his movement is always geared to get him into goal-scoring positions, something the other three lack. While he is still a bit rusty, his return comes at a vital time for Liverpool and will benefit the rest of the side. His movement will benefit Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling, who now have someone to play in behind, and his presence has already helped Balotelli, who is much more adept when playing with another striker. With Sturridge back on the pitch, Liverpool will finally have the end-product that much of their play deserves.
Who would’ve thought that the side who put eight past Sunderland in a single game this season would be finding goals so hard to come by these days? The form of the forwards has dropped and Southampton haven’t won a game by a two-goal margin, since beating Arsenal on New Year’s Day. Graziano Pelle has only scored two league goals since the beginning of November and is yet to register this year. His replacement, Shane Long, who hasn’t scored in the league since November, is injured with a broken rib. Dusan Tadic has been struggling to find his early season form despite goals against Arsenal and Manchester United. In short, Southampton just don’t offer much of a threat going forward. They are completely reliant on the solidity of their defence for a clean sheet and maybe nicking a goal, a strategy that can so easily backfire.
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