After a turbulent first half of the season, everything seems to be clicking into place for Liverpool after they secured a fourth win in five games by beating Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.
It’s no coincidence that the Reds’ fortunes have improved with the return of Daniel Sturridge, but it’s also clear that several of their summer signings are finally hitting their straps.
Lazar Markovic looks better with every minute on the pitch, Adam Lallana is a constant menace when fit, and now even Mario Balotelli is starting to carve out a niche for himselv at Anfield.
After grabbing his first Premier League goal for Liverpool by netting a late winner against Tottenham Hotspur, the Italian came off the bench to help spark the comeback win at Palace.
It isn’t the role that Balotelli will have had in mind when he joined the Reds from AC Milan in the summer, but Brendan Rodgers might have found the perfect super-sub for his side.
Sturridge, who has scored 33 times in 49 league appearances for Liverpool, is undoubtedly the first choice striker at Anfield.
Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho are also increasingly undroppable in the Reds’ attack, with Markovic and Lallana also in the mix for a first-team spot.
Balotelli hasn’t done anywhere near enough to push himself ahead of these players into the starting XI, but the Italian undoubtedly offers something different from the bench.
Strong, direct and clearly a useful foil for Sturridge, whose best form at Liverpool has come in tandem with another forward, plan B might well come to mean plan Balotelli for Rodgers.
The Reds are currently 7/2 to claim a top-four spot this term, but are top of the Premier League form table over the past six games, and just five points off third place.
With his first-choice attack fit and firing, and Balotelli making an impact from the bench, Rodgers now has enough firepower to drive his side into the Champions League once again.
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