Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers says criticism of Raheem Sterling is misplaced, describing him as "outstanding" after his two goals in the 3-1 League Cup win at Bournemouth.
The forward, 20, missed several one-on-one chances in Sunday's 3-0 Premier League defeat by Manchester United.
"The kid, for some reason, seems to be getting a lot of stick off a lot of people for something," Rodgers said.
The Reds boss compared Sterling to Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez.
"He is not an out-and-out striker, but his speed in front of the back four and behind them causes problems," said Rodgers.
"He can get it, turn and go at defenders. He was outstanding. "In that role, you think of Alexis Sanchez when he plays for Arsenal."
With Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli missing the League Cup quarter-final against the Cherries, Sterling continued as a lone central striker.
|Sanchez v Sterling in 2014-15|
|Alexis Sanchez||Raheem Sterling|
"He was very good playing in a position that is not his best," former Liverpool winger John Barnes told BBC Radio 5 live: .
He added that Sterling was "not a classic number nine" but said he could be effective and score goals as "one of the front three".
Liverpool will face Premier League leaders Chelsea in the League Cup semi-finals in January. The winners will play Sheffield United or Tottenham.
Meanwhile, Sterling, whose goals against Bournemouth came either side of a strike from Lazar Markovic, has reportedly turned down an offer to extend his contract at Anfield.
Rodgers did not seem overly concerned when discussing the issue with the media, but Barnes, who spent 10 years at Anfield, feels strongly that Sterling should remain at Anfield.
"He needs a couple more years of consistent performances before he decides to try his hand elsewhere," said Barnes.
"We have seen so many young players struggle with the pressure of moving to a big club, having been a professional for a short time."