Fightback against Chelsea helps define how the future will look under the Liverpool manager
Match by match, point by point, it becomes easier to see the results of what Brendan Rodgers is attempting to do at Liverpool, and how he might succeed. Sunday's well-merited draw may have been the fourth in their past five Premier league matches but it was no accident that they ended it on the attack against Chelsea, with the oft-derided José Enrique starting and finishing a 94th-minute move that ended with Petr Cech scrambling to beat away the wing-back's powerful drive.
The Spaniard had been outstanding as the visitors fought to nullify Chelsea's half-time lead. He may lack finesse but on this occasion he gave everything to the cause and his display of indomitability infused the rest of his team. Even the diminutive Joe Allen was encouraged to cast off the memory of a first-half performance in which he had been too easily bullied off the ball and to make an increasingly effective contribution to the collective effort as Liverpool strove to match the European champions blow for blow.
One sign of a good manager is that his team tend to play better after half-time. It took Rodgers until the hour mark to find a way to make the difference, involving an adjustment to the 3-5-2 formation with which he had started the match and the introduction of the 18-year-old Spanish midfielder Suso in place of the largely invisible Nuri Sahin. Immediately Liverpool were back in the match.
"We were a wee bit tentative in the first half and that was my fault," the Liverpool manager said on his return to the club where he worked as one of José Mourinho's coaches from 2004 to 2008.
"We normally play with three forwards and that allows us to press the game. With the two front players we couldn't get our distances right. Once we changed it around to 4-2-3-1, we got back on to the front foot again. It was a terrific point and I'm delighted for our young players. I know as well as anyone how hard it is to come here."
He also praised his senior players, including Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson but particularly Jamie Carragher, who replaced the unwell Martin Skrtel and brought his traditional virtues to the centre of an unfamiliar back three, flanked by Andre Wisdom and Daniel Agger.
But it was Luis Suárez, inevitably, who was at the centre of the two incidents that shaped Liverpool's afternoon. Knocked off balance by Ramires as he dribbled towards the edge of the Chelsea penalty area in the 35th minute, he stumbled and fell into John Terry, whose right knee buckled in the wholly accidental collision. In the 73rd minute he was in the right place to meet the glancing back-header with which Carragher redirected Suso's right-wing corner, unmarked as he nodded the ball into the roof of the net from two yards' range.
The Uruguayan had been uncharacteristically quiet throughout the first half, virtually purging his performance of the claims and complaints that so infuriate neutrals as well as his opponents and their supporters. There were a few more gesticulations in the second period, notably when Howard Webb refused to give him a free-kick for a brusque intervention by Branislav Ivanovic, the sort of borderline decision that will often go against Suárez, on the basis of his past record of trying the officials' credulity and patience.
In the main, however, he concentrated on leading the line, a constant source of dynamism and he covered the width of the pitch in search of damaging combinations. He received excellent support from Raheem Sterling, the 17-year-old looking every inch a Premier League player and potential England international, and suffering not at all from the comparison with Chelsea's glittering trio of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata and Oscar.
In the first minute after the interval it was Sterling who gave an indication of Liverpool's intent by stripping the ball from Mata, scampering past Oscar and drawing a vigorous foul from Mikel John Obi. At a guess, his contract renegotiation will take him closer to the £50,000 a week his agent is demanding than to the club's offer of £20,000.
"That's our sixth draw [of the season] and we've come back after going behind in a lot of those games," Rodgers said. "So there's a lot of resilience there. But we need the materials, and if we can get one or two in up top in January, we'll finish off a lot of our good football and turn some of those draws into wins.
"The club have given me great support since I came here. The owners have give me security, the supporters have been fantastic and the players have given me everything. The supporters are very educated and they've been very lenient on myself and the team. I thank them for that."