Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool reign really can be summit special

Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their fourth goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool
Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool
Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their fourth goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool
Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge (centre) celebrates scoring their second goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool celebrates after scoring a goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Daniel Sturridge (2nd R) of Liverpool is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Steven Gerrard of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Roberto Martinez the Everton manager directs his players as Brendan Rodgers the Liverpool manager reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool takes a penalty kick , but puts his attempt wide of the target during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Steven Gerrard hands the ball to team-mate Daniel Sturridge (left) to take a penalty kick during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool attempts to control the ball under pressure from John Stones of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28: Raheem Sterling of Liverpool is brought down for a penalty by goalkeeper Tim Howard of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool chips the ball over goalkeeper Tim Howard of Everton to score his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Daniel Sturridge (2nd R) of Liverpool is congratulated by teammates after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Luis Suarez of Liverpoolis pursued by James McCarthy of Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Daniel Sturridge (R) of Liverpool is congratulated by teammate Luis Suarez (L) after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Roberto Martinez the Everton manager directs his players as Brendan Rodgers the Liverpool manager reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their fourth goal of the game during the Barclays Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

What a night for Liverpool and Brendan Rodgers. What a nightmare for Everton and Roberto Martinez.

It had all been going so well for the shrewd Spaniard, who has transformed the Toffees from a bustling, battling side to a brilliant one to watch.

That was until this humiliation at the home of their fiercest rivals. Little to choose between the sides all season, Liverpool thumped Everton 4-0 to move four points clear of their nearest and not so dearest in the battle for a Champions League place.

Martinez didn't just lose the game, he lost his frontline striker Romelu Lukaku to injury. Without him for any length of time, it's impossible to think that the Goodison Park men can become a top four Premier League outfit.

Liverpool looked every inch that and more in a dynamic display. Playing in this manner for the rest of the campaign they could still challenge Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea for the title.

As a manager, Rodgers continues to go from strength to strength.

The Merseyside derby was his biggest match since taking over from Kenny Dalglish in the middle of 2012.

It was a major test for the Ulsterman and he came through it with flying colours.

They were singing in the rain on the Kop with the name of Carnlough's favourite son echoing around the famous Anfield arena.

It hasn't always been that way for the 41-year-old. He's won them over though with his style of play, his personality and the results his team have produced this season.

Of course it helps when you have Superman to call upon.

Steven Gerrard donned the cape again last night and delivered. From the moment he powered his header into the net on 21 minutes, the winners were always going to be wearing red.

The Liverpool skipper remains one of the most influential midfielders in British football.

Rodgers likes Gerrard in a more withdrawn role these days, and he played it to perfection, helping Liverpool keep a clean sheet, but when he does venture forward he still does it with menace.

Thankfully for Rodgers, unlike previous managers at Anfield, he doesn't solely have to rely on Gerrard.

There are other superheroes in the ranks, like the slick Spiderman type Daniel Sturridge and the darker, more threatening Luis Suarez – he's obviously the Batman of the group!

They were both on target again last night with Suarez sliding in number four, taking advantage of a misplaced pass.

Sturridge had ended the contest before the break making it 3-0 with two fantastic finishes, though the defending from Everton's Phil Jagielka and Antolin Alcaraz was awful, allowing him the time and space to convert.

I thought no-one escaped from Alcaraz. Sturridge and Suarez did it all night!

Sturridge missed the opportunity to grab his hat-trick, smashing a penalty over the bar (he's English and it is World Cup year so what do you expect?) and he had words with an angry Suarez when another chance was wasted. He was also miffed when Rodgers took him off with 20 minutes left.

It was the only disappointment for Liverpool all night. On this form they are top four material, at the very least.

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