Brendan Rodgers has been pleased with the performance of England international Raheem Sterling. The Anfield boss hailed the prolific forward’s brilliant performance against Chelsea in the first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final.
The revitalized forward showed the benefits of midseason break in the Caribbean with a magnificent goal on the night to earn his side a 1-1 draw.
Deployed in a more central role, other than his usual wide position, Sterling pulled Liverpool back on level terms after Eden Hazard had put the visitors ahead with a well taken penalty, waltzing past Matic and Gary Cahill before confidently finishing with his left foot.
The decision by Brendan Rodgers to play the 20-year old as a striker seems to be paying off after criticism last month in the defeat to Manchester United. Sterling could have scored three that day but found it hard against one of the Premier League’s in-form goalkeepers, David De Gea.
The Englishman’s recent form has led to him being compared to Arsenal’s legend striker Thierry Henry, many believing he has the ability to emulate the Frenchman and develop into a striker from a winger. When Henry arrived at Arsenal, he was playing in wide positions before Arsene Wenger transformed him into one of the best strikers the world has ever seen.
Liverpool have often struggled to break down opposition defenses this season with the absence of Daniel Sturridge, but Rodgers will be hoping his new star man will emulate Henry’s success at Arsenal.
The club signed Rickie Lambert and Mario Balotelli last summer but both have failed to impress, scoring only one goal between them in 23 league appearances. Fabio Borini, who had a successful loan spell at Sunderland last season, is another potential but appears to be out-of-favor.
Sterling broke into Rodgers’ side as winger, but can also play as a central attacking midfielder just behind the striker. After being played as central striker at Old Trafford, he showed great signs, and in his second game at the position against Bournemouth, he scored twice.
Chelsea have the best defensive side in the League with Nemanja Matic, Gary Cahill and John Terry at the heart of it, but the way Sterling steered through them was a show of confidence and class from a player with more to come. He has all the attributes to become the best in the game, with his pace and trickery a nightmare for many defenders.
Brendan Rodgers has shifted his formation to 3-4-2-1, with sterling playing in an advanced role. This has excited the England international who says he’s enjoying his new position. Since losing 3-0 to Manchester United at Old Trafford last month, Liverpool have gone nine matches unbeaten in all competition and Sterling has been at the center of it, scoring four goals in seven appearances and helping open up space for his fellow colleagues.
The loss of Luis Suarez to Barcelona and the long injury lay off to Daniel Sturridge at the beginning of this season has seen the Anfield side lose its attacking venom, but many fans getting Liverpool FC tickets are hoping that Sturridge will be paired up front with Sterling and bring last season’s swagger back.
One man who is sure to be concerned with Sterling’s versatility is England’s boss Roy Hodgson. With the exception of Wayne Rooney, England have lacked a prolific goal scorer in recent years. But without a doubt, Sterling is a complete player with all the attributes to be a great. His new role could just be the beginning of his making and his manager.