Liverpool, and Brendan Rodgers, finally ended a barren spell with a 3-2 victory, that was more comfortable than the scoreline would suggest, over Aston Villa in their latest Premier League match at Anfield.
Two goals from Daniel Sturridge and an early strike from stand-in skipper James Milner ensured the Reds climbed up the table and relieved some of the pressure on Brendan Rodgers' shoulders, who must now look to maintain the level of performance that delivered Liverpool's third league win.
The amount of pressure imposed on Rodgers has been largely unfair given the circumstances, it is imperative that he builds upon the positives of the season thus far- and the key to achieving that is consistency.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Although blessed with the world-class talent that is Luis Suarez, the side that went so close to winning the league in 2014 was one that was largely a given week-in, week-out.
Whether this added to the success the Liverpool side enjoyed is impossible to determine for definite, but the notion that players that play together often will strike up an understanding, particularly in offensive positions, is one that makes sense.
The Anfield outfit, therefore, must find a system that brings the best out of the players at disposal in order to allow players to truly understand their roles and give them the best chance to flourish- if Lazar Markovic's form in a Liverpool shirt held any meaningful purpose, it could well be to illustrate this point.
The system must play to Liverpool's strengths, and their main strength, though not abundantly clear this season, is in fast paced attacking play. Equally important, though, is that the system limits Liverpool's weaknesses- their shaky defence.
The latter requirement could simply be a question of adopting a flat back four, a simple system that doesn't lend itself to errors in communication (unlike a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2), completed by Moreno, Sakho, Skrtel and Clyne, by far Liverpool's best defenders.
Ahead of them should be a midfielder who can sit in front of the back four, drop back if required, but also run with the ball when required. Although seemingly tailor made for one Lucas Leiva, the role should be filled by Emre Can.
Versatile, strong and technically gifted, the German shows immense promise and should start in his favoured position. Ahead of him is a spot naturally reserved for captain Jordan Henderson (upon return) and one for a box-to-box midfielder. Liverpool must avoid a midfield that is too rigid and immobile, there must be at least one midfielder who can beat a man to join with one who gladly does the 'dirty work' in winning the ball back (which is what makes midfielders like Paul Pogba, who do both admirably, such hot commodities).
Milner, although a hard worker, fills the role filled by Jordan Henderson which, although useful in his absence, makes it hard to pick him in Liverpool's best side. What Liverpool need is a player that is not quite a Coutinho, but not quite a Lucas, to sit next to Henderson. These players come with a price tag (Modric, Vidal and Pogba would cost upwards of 50m and unlikely to join in any case), but would improve Liverpool immeasurably. However, due to the lack of such a player in Liverpool's squad, another player (presumably Milner) would slot into the side, completing it in the process.
The finishing, and most important touch, then, is the attack. Christian Benteke does not fit the reds' style of play (and was bought due to lack of striking options in the summer transfer window, summed up by Arsene Wenger), and should be used as an impact player, behind Daniel Sturridge, who should start.
Behind him, as inverted forwards, Coutinho and Roberto Firmino (although the latter will take time to adapt, it must be assumed he will). This would make the most of Liverpool's creative midfielders and the pace of Daniel Sturridge whilst at the same time diverting attention from the alarming lack of natural wingers in the side.
Whether the side has enough ability to finish in that elusive fourth spot is the million-dollar question. Far easier to predict, though, is that consistently picking the same side and playing to Liverpool's strengths is an idea worth pursuing by Brendan Rodgers.