Five reasons why Liverpool can make the top four

Daniel Sturridge Liverpool

The Reds sealed an emphatic 4-0 win over Everton to boost their credentials in the race for fourth place.

Liverpool's 4-0 win over Everton has put the Reds three points clear of their nearest threat for fourth spot in Tottenham Hotspur, retaining a six-point advantage over arch-rivals Manchester United but also handing a severe blow to the Toffees' prospects.

Goals from Steven Gerrard, Daniel Sturridge (2) and Luis Suarez were the perfect tonic for a rampant Liverpool side who put their Merseyside rivals to the sword with a virtuoso attacking display.

Brendan Rodgers is yet to secure any of his targets - most notably Mohamed Salah - in the January transfer window but Tuesday night's win lifted any pressure after a recent rut, which was encapsulated by the home struggles against Aston Villa in a 2-2 draw.

But here are five reasons why Rodgers and his charges can remain exactly where they are and secure Champions League qualification.

Sturridge's much-needed comeback:

The return of Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool's starting XI could have been problematic in some respects for Rodgers, with the 2-2 draw with Villa illustrating a midfield imbalance to accommodate the England international's place up front.

Sturridge was at his imperious best on Tuesday night, slotting two superbly-taken finishes beyond Tim Howard after benefitting from some poor defending from Everton, but his ice-cool predatory instincts when tasked with finishing off the chances his team-mates fashion for him are second to none.

Suarez's continued brilliance

The Uruguayan hit the skids to some extent during the festive period as he failed to find the back of the net - for a change - at either Manchester City or Chelsea, proving perhaps that a title challenge may be one bridge too far for a burgeoning Reds squad.

Successive blanks in front of goal should not detract from his overall output in both games, however, as he laid the ball on a plate for Raheem Sterling to score at the Etihad Stadium and had a hand in his side's goal at Stamford Bridge.

How Everton would have hoped he would endure similar struggles in front of goal. Unfortunately for them, they were on the wrong side of a Suarez masterclass, running the entire half before applying the simplest of finishes. It bodes well for the run-in.

A cavalier philosophy can work:

Manchester City have relied on a method of simply outscoring opponents this year and the current shape of the Liverpool side suggests a not-dissimilar operation is being adopted at Anfield.

Sturridge and Suarez, or SAS if you prefer, are able to wreak havoc against most defences, especially when aided by an impressive attacking midfield quarter of Philippe Coutinho, Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson and Raheem Sterling.

The defensive side to the game, however, is effectively neglected. Lucas Leiva's knee ligament injury is a savage blow to the centre of midfield with Joe Allen, also currently sidelined, now providing the only real recognisable defensive midfield figure.

Although there is likely to be incessant pressure on Rodgers' defence with such a desire to attack, they stifled Everton effectively enough and with possession-based ethos' helping them starve other teams of the ball, Liverpool and City have both proven two out-and-out strikers can work in the modern age.

New addition(s)?:

The rumour mill is open for business as we approach the final stages of the transfer window, and it appears as if Liverpool will make at least one signing. 

Yevhen Konoplyanka, the Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk winger, is expected to join for a fee of around £15million as the clock ticks down on teams wishing to make last-minute acquisitions.

Rodgers was gazumped by Chelsea in the race for Salah but now appears on the verge of a major breakthrough in the market to bolster the squad. The pacey wide-man will provide an alternative to Coutinho and Sterling due to his directness and tricky wing play.

Returning players:

Rodgers has been handicapped by a host of first-team individuals dropping like flies in recent weeks with various injuries.

Liverpool can expect to welcome back Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Glen Johnson, Jose Enrique, Lucas Leiva and Joe Allen in the coming months, which will be an incredible boost to the defensive unit.

The likes of Martin Kelly and Jon Flanagan are still feeling their way back to full fitness while Aly Cissokho and Iago Aspas have yet to fully acclimatise to the rigours of football in England. With some improved form and better luck on the injury table, Liverpool can sustain their push for the top four.

image: © kuaver

Register for LIVERPOOL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch