Liverpool edged out Sunderland in a 1-0 win on Saturday, but what did we learn from the game?
Emre Can is becoming increasingly important
Since coming on at half time for Kolo Toure against Burnley on Boxing Day, Emre Can has been a fixture of the Liverpool defence. A midfielder by trade, Can has been superb on the left hand side of the Liverpool defence, whilst he showed his versatility by playing at right wing back in the second half against Sunderland too. The £10m summer signing is improving by the week, and should continue to start regularly.
Lazar Markovic is developing by the week
Serbian winger Markovic made a slow, uninspiring start to life as a Liverpool player, and looked frightened to take on players when in possession - something which had made him such a star at Benfica. Now though, Markovic is blossoming, running at defenders and creating havoc in the final third. He will earn the plaudits for having scored the winning goal against Sunderland, but he should also have had an early penalty and hit the crossbar with a stunning volley in a great display.
Mario Balotelli deserves more of a chance
Fabio Borini was given the start up front for Liverpool, but was ineffectual in attack. Balotelli did finally come on with 23 minutes to play, but that was far too little time for him to make an impact. He headed one half chance over the crossbar, but given how Borini offered very little threat up front on his own, Balotelli may have been a better option - and whilst he's been poor, he does deserve more than 20 minute cameos.
The Liverpool defence is better when Mamadou Sakho plays
Liverpool may have struggled in attack this term, but the defence has been awful yet again - despite spending over £40m on reinforcements in the summer. In this three-man backline, Mamadou Sakho has been restored to the line up on the left hand side of the three, and impressed again on Saturday. The Frenchman was strong and confident bringing the ball out from the back, and has made Liverpool steadier defensively.
Gerrard-mania will last for some time yet
Steven Gerrard may have only played 45 minutes, but the furore over his departure from Anfield continued throughout the game. With a move to Los Angeles Galaxy agreed, Gerrard will end his association with the Reds at the end of the seaosn, and his exit is attracting quite the reaction. Even having not played the second half, Gerrard was followed around by TV cameras and was the focal point at the end of the game as he congratulated his team mates; love him or loathe him, Gerrard's exit will receive wall-to-wall coverage in the coming months as the inspirational captain makes his emotional departure.