Liverpool will rely on Sturridge, Sterling and Coutinho to spark their revival
(Raheem Sterling 51, Daniel Sturridge 80)
WEST HAM 0
One shot, one kill.
It is precisely what Liverpool have been missing this season.
And on his return after a five-month injury layoff in the English Premier League yesterday, Daniel Sturridge raised Anfield's hopes of another Champions League campaign next season when he rounded off a 2-0 win over West Ham with a lovely touch and powerful finish past Adrian in the 80th minute.
Make no mistake about it, Raheem Sterling, who grabbed the 51st-minute opener with a cool finish to calm the nerves of the home crowd, and young Brazilian wizard Philippe Coutinho, who provided two assists, are players who seem destined for the top.
But they continue to pass up the option to shoot on too many occasions, and even when they pull the trigger, they miss too many chances.
It was painfully obvious yesterday against the Hammers that the lack of a lethal striker like Luis Suarez or Fernando Torres would cost Brendan Rodgers' side dear.
Gone are the days when Steven Gerrard - who missed a 700th appearance for Liverpool through injury - can single-handedly haul his team out of trouble, and in Sturridge rests the hopes that the side will score the goals to deliver victories.
Jordan Henderson, Lucas Leiva and the woeful Lazar Markovic were all industrious, but were never going to bulge the net.
Rodgers' side played the first half just like a team that simply cannot score enough at home - with just 17 goals in 12 games so far, a far cry from last season's 53 in 19 games.
Sterling's form, Sturridge's return and the potential of the combination of the duo with Coutinho will almost certainly be what opponents will fear the most facing the Reds.
Liverpool never scared opponents before Sturridge's return, and Anfield wasn't a fortress anymore.
In last season's title tilt, Liverpool dropped just eight out of a possible 57 points at home, a total bettered only by eventual champions Manchester City, who dropped just five.
This term, the Reds have already doubled the number of points dropped at home compared to last season, and we are barely into the new year.
This can be attributed to both the lack of sharpness upfront, as well as the defensive triumvirate of Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and the likes of Kolo Toure or Emre Can, which can be described as muddled, messy, and even mediocre.
But all that could change now that Sturridge is back, especially if he can regain the form that saw him grab 21 league goals in 29 games last season.
Even his warm-up routine was greeted with a roar of approval by the Kop, and when he was brought on as a 68th-minute sub for Markovic, Anfield rose as one to welcome a hero.
Sturridge duly delivered, and there is a renewed air of expectancy at Anfield, and among Liverpool fans all over the world.
Where they could once be forgiven for giving up on dreaming about exertions on hallowed European grounds next season, Liverpool fans now have renewed hope.