Liverpool: Brendan Rodgers' 5 Best Moves at Anfield so Far
Brendan Rodgers recently celebrated his first Premier League win as Liverpool manager.
The former Swansea boss had to wait six games before destroying Norwich 5-2. His side have shown plenty of improvements over the past month and were unlucky not to register three points earlier in the season.
Is the new boss changing Liverpool's fortunes? He has certainly made some good moves during his time at the club.
I've ranked his five best decisions so far. Do you agree? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter.
All statistics in this article are courtesy of WhoScored.
Grounding Expectation at the Club
Brendan Rodgers is a realistic individual.
Taking over from Kenny Dalglish, Rodgers knew the club was in disarray. He's had little over four months to stamp his authority on a group that finished the last Premier League campaign in awful form.
Liverpool have continued to improve under his guidance. In the last few games, we've seen the team playing with confidence and style. They were desperately unlucky to lose 2-1 against Manchester United in a game that was heavily dominated by the Merseyside hosts.
While a win against Sir Alex Ferguson's men would have kick-started Rodgers' regime into gear, plenty of lessons came from the defeat.
Liverpool supporters fully understand the magnitude of Rodgers' job. He continues to build a relationship with the fans that is both assured and realistic.
During the recent Capital One Cup tie away at West Brom, 4,000 visitors sang Rodgers' name.
The Hawthorns marked the first domestic loss and win of the Northern Irishman's reign. As his young side marched to a 2-1 win over Steve Clarke's team, Rodgers thanked the crowd for their sensible expectations and support (via The Daily Mail).
Rodgers and the club's fans have a mutual agreement and expectations for one another. Both sides know what they are working with. I don't think this was possible under Kenny Dalglish. Having a club legend run the day-to-day proceedings only reminds supporters of former glories.
With Rodgers at the helm, Liverpool can now focus on the future.
Bringing Raheem Sterling into the Starting 11
Raheem Sterling's ascension to Liverpool's first team has been long overdue.
Brendan Rodgers has put his faith in the 17-year-old who has performed magnificently for the most part. The winger has made five appearances in the Premier League this season, and nabbed his first assist in the starting 11.
Liverpool's youngster has an average pass success rate of 83.9 percent this campaign. For comparison, club captain Steven Gerrard has an average of 85.2 percent across six appearances, and Luis Suarez's stats currently stand at 77.6 percent.
These numbers are impressive and underline a real superstar in the making.
Sterling's game is all about speed and direct attacking. He dominated Kolo Toure and the Manchester City defence in the recent battle at Anfield, showcasing his talents within a hectic 90 minutes.
He is by no means the finished article. Sterling must improve when tracking back and needs to galvanise his decision making. Right now, such intricacies hardly matter.
Rodgers' decision to bring Sterling into the senior squad signalises a chance in momentum at Anfield. The likes of Dirk Kuyt and Craig Bellamy may have moved on, but Sterling headlines a new generation of stars for the club.
Dropping Stewart Downing
Sterling's rise to prominence is coupled with Stewart Downing's fall from grace.
The former Middlesbrough winger has started just one game in the Premier League this season. His total of three appearances is yet to produce a goal or assist.
The 28-year-old suffered a terrible debut year at Liverpool and must fight for his place (via The Guardian). Rodgers has indicated Downing might have a future at the club if he is willing to show commitment.
A change of position has also been suggested, as the manager tinkers with the idea of converting the England international to left back (via The Independent).
Downing's stats continue to disappoint.
On average, he has only completed 0.7 of a dribble in his Premier League appearances this campaign. He has been dispossessed an average of 1.4 times. This means he is twice as likely to lose the ball than get around his opponent.
While his pass success rate is a healthy 86.2 percent, Downing his managed just 0.7 crosses when on the field.
Such statistics speak volumes about his current state of mind.
We all know Downing is a talented individual who has decent delivery and vision. Unfortunately, it's difficult to run under the £20 million price tag.
Giving Jonjo Shelvey a Chance to Shine
Shelvey's most famous contribution so far this season is the sending off against Manchester United.
Although his rash tackle is fresh in the memory, the midfielder has worked hard for his place in the team.
The 20-year-old has made two starts in the Premier League this campaign and scored two goals coming off the bench in the Europa League.
Shelvey is confident on the ball and has the legs to cover great distance. Gerrard's ability to get across the field is starting to wane, so Shelvey's role is going to grow in importance across the next year.
Now Charlie Adam has departed the club, Liverpool are putting an emphasis on players who can dribble as well as pass.
While the club battles on domestic and European fronts, Shelvey's fitness could be crucial. Rodgers likes players of his ilk, as evidenced in the loan acquisition of Nuri Sahin.
I feel Shelvey adds an extra dimension to Liverpool's style. Like Sterling, he must also be afforded time to improve. The only way this will happen is through experience on the pitch.
After his sending off, Liverpool's midfielder indicated he would never pull out of a tackle in a big match (via Manchester Evening News).
That is the type of player Brendan Rodgers needs right now.
Signing Joe Allen
Joe Allen's Liverpool career has started excellently.
Brendan Rodgers' decision to bring the Welshman across from Swansea was a fruitful one. He has taken control of the club's midfield, allowing others to get forward and create chances.
Allen's stats are hugely impressive. His pass success ratio amounts to 92.8 percent, with an average of 8.2 long balls per match.
The new signing also works extremely hard when defending.
In his first six Premier League appearances for Rodgers' side, Allen has produced an average of 2.7 tackles in every game. This is higher than the likes of Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger and Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool's captain was amongst the first to reveal plaudits for Allen (via Goal.com). His praise is testimony to the hard work and execution of the 22-year-old.
I expect Allen to keep improving under the guidance of Rodgers. The manager is fully confident in his player's ability, a suggestion reinforced by the £15 million sum Liverpool paid for his signature.
Alongside Sterling, Shelvey and the other young talents at Anfield, Allen's future is full of promise.