1. Markovic is finally settling at Liverpool
By far his best display in a Liverpool shirt, Markovic is showing signs of finally settling into Brendan Rodgers’s team. After his well taken goal, Markovic was a constant thorn in Sunderland’s side and nearly made it 2-0 with a brilliant, if unorthodox, volley from the edge of the box which struck the bar. With Adam Lallana out and Raheem Sterling rested, the Serbian is taking his chance.
2. Liverpool can survive without Sterling
Rodgers’s decision to let Sterling travel to Jamaica for a mid-season holiday was a strange one that could easily have backfired, particularly given the injuries to Liverpool’s attacking players. But Sterling’s teammates stepped up and put in a performance that avoided an embarrassing backlash for Rodgers.
3. Liverpool still need a striker (and a keeper)
Liverpool had plenty of chances to put this game to bed before half time. But they made heavy weather of securing victory in a game that should have been won 2-0 or 3-0. Mario Balotelli is clearly not the man to solve the problem and neither is Fabio Borini. Having failed to secure a deal for Xherdan Shaqiri, Liverpool must do all they can to bring a proven goalscorer to Anfield. And a top quality goalkeeper certainly wouldn't hurt.
4. Sunderland are better with 10 men
The Black Cats just didn’t turn up today. They lacked ideas and were deservingly beaten by a better side. But the only time in the contest that they actually looked like scoring was after Liam Bridcutt’s red card, when Adam Johnson saw his shot crash back off the bar. Sunderland need to do much more in games like this if they are to avoid getting dragged into another relegation fight.
5. Top four still looks beyond Liverpool
This was a good win on the road and Liverpool have started the year well, but they still lack the quality in goal and in attacking areas to make a sustained assault on the top four this season. A quality goalkeeper and a quality attacker would significantly improve their chances of reaching the heights of last season… and then there’s the problem of replacing Gerrard.
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