It was a rare moment for Liverpool this season: An easy win, and a happy Brendan Rodgers at the end of the match. Not just for moving ahead in the League Cup (to the Semifinal where they’ll face Chelsea) but especially for Raheem Sterling, now without any hair on his head, proving a lot of people wrong.
Sterling scored two goals in the 3-1 win over a red hot Bornemouth side, playing away from home. Sterling was heavily criticized for missing a slew of chances from comfortable positions in the 3-0 loss at Old Trafford to Manchester United.
Once again, Rodgers opted to start without a natural striker, only this time, the ball went in. The formation and tactics actually looked pretty good in the loss to Manchester United as well. The only difference was David de Gea stopping everything sent his way.
He has got a wee bit of stick Raheem over the last while or so, which I find incredible. He has been outstanding for us. Last season, he was a young kid at 18 or 19 years of age, playing up top with some world class players. This season, he hasn’t got that. This is the reality and a lot of focus has been on him. He has not scored the goals that maybe people expect of him, but that’s not what I expect. I expect him to create goals and score goals over the course of the season.
You see him tonight in the strikers role and we want to see him getting between people and not get tackled. Spin in behind and his pace and dribbling ability is there to see. He can play across the front line. His best position is on the left, dipping inside, making runs in behind, creating one vs. ones. I put him in the position because I believe he can play in it. He played there in the youth team at Liverpool and he has the quality to do it.
He is, as you can see, happy and enjoying his football. At Old Trafford he was unfortunate not to score and in that role he plays you think of Alexis Sanchez when he plays for Arsenal. He is not an out-and-out striker but his speed in front of the back four and behind them causes problems and you’ve seen that with him here, he can get it, turn and go at defenders. He has been like that all season and been a real catalyst for us.
Sterling recently celebrated his 20th birthday, and has been capped 14 times by England. In 24 matches this season in all competitions, he has five goals and five assists for Liverpool. It seems that deploying in something of a false nine role puts him in a lot more dangerous situations. He only needs to start putting the ball in the net.