Suarez and Sturridge: Looking to put Liverpool back in the top four
In the build-up to the end of Luis Suarez's suspension last week, we were subjected to the pessimistic views of pundits on the dangers of the mercurial forward's return.
We were told how he and Daniel Sturridge might not work together or how Brendan Rodgers would be compromising his team to accommodate him.
Quite frankly, this was absolute garbage.
And after just one league game back together, the duo have already shown as such. It was as though the 162 days that had passed since Suarez's infamous last appearance had wiped the memory of the seven games they had started together—which had seen them contribute seven goals combined.
Add in the three from the Stadium of Light and it's 10 goals together in eight games started, with just one defeat and five wins.
Those stats are even more impressive when you include the games where Sturridge came on to score as sub last season, such as Man United away and Chelsea at home. As per the impressive stat-man Andrew Beasley on twitter:
The return of Suarez has seen Rodgers change his set-up, with three at the back providing a more solid base from which the forward trio of Suarez, Sturridge and Victor Moses can influence the game—without leaving Lucas and Steven Gerrard over-run in midfield as we have seen on occasion in the last six months.
An even more exciting prospect is that of Philippe Coutinho in behind the duo once he returns from injury.
Traditional Front Two
There aren't many front-two combinations in the Premier League at present, such is the trend for formations that see a lone striker supported by wide forwards or 'number 10' playmakers. But Rodgers has been brave to pair the duo in a more traditional front two.
What was impressive against Sunderland was the actual combination play between the duo in the final third. Sturridge of course assisting both of Suarez's goals but also the fact they had a 100 percent pass completion rate between each other.
"It's great to have him [Suarez] back and it gives us options. He is one of the best forwards in the league and we form a good partnership."
-- Daniel Sturridge on the return of Luis Suarez
Suarez's return has relieved the reliance on Sturridge for goals in a similar manner that Sturridge's arrival from Chelsea in January lessened the burden on Suarez.
Prior to Suarez's return, Sturridge had scored four of Liverpool's five goals this season. Admittedly, the rest of the Liverpool squad does not look like contributing goals in abundance so having two forwards who can ensure that doesn't become a problem is vital for Brendan Rodgers.
Statistically, Liverpool's most prolific post-war front two is that of Roger Hunt and Ian St. John who scored a combined whopping 59 League goals in the 1961/62 season. While that may be a tough figure for any front two to ever eclipse, what's interesting to note is that Liverpool have never had two players both score 20 goals in a League season since 1960.
|Season||Front Two||Combined League Goals|
|2007/08||Gerrard & Torres||35|
|1995/96||Fowler & Collymore||40|
|1989/90||Barnes & Rush||40|
|1982/83||Rush & Dalglish||42|
|1961/62||Hunt & St. John||59|
Stats via LFCHistory.
Champions League Dreams
Suarez and Sturridge is a partnership that should be gracing its presence among Europe's elite. If the two of them can remain fit and available there's reason to believe they can both get 20 League goals this season—and in doing so, secure the all-precious return to Champions League football for Liverpool.