The similarities between this performance, against what was an impressive Southampton side, and Liverpool's opening games of last season were apparent.
Twelve months ago—missing the then-suspended Suarez—the Reds opened with three consecutive 1-0 wins, with Sturridge scoring the winner in each. The England forward got the winner at Anfield, too, poking home from close range to give Rodgers' side all three points.
Anyway. No Suarez, a new signing in central defence, Mignolet with a blinding late save and Sturridge with the winner. It's 2013.— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) August 17, 2014
Clearly, it's early days, and if Liverpool go on to perform as they did last season, then we're in for an exciting season. The question is, though: Will they be able to add that creative, energetic spark in the final third without their departed Uruguayan?
System and Personnel
Much has been made of how—between them—Philippe Coutinho and Sterling can replace Suarez, with Rodgers seeking to get Coutinho in the No. 10 role behind Sturridge in order to let the Brazilian be the creator in chief.
It was there where Coutinho began the game, as Rodgers began with a 4-2-3-1 shape and Lucas Leiva alongside Steven Gerrard. It was a shape which saw Liverpool lack fluidity, and they changed to 4-3-3 in the second half.
A change took place again when Rickie Lambert entered the match shortly before Sturridge's winning goal, with Coutinho removed and Sterling moved to the point of the midfield diamond in a 4-1-2-1-2.
That formation proved successful in the latter stages of last season, but without Suarez, the question now is whether Lambert can be considered as a starter alongside Sturridge. Perhaps that shape is the one which we are more likely to see if Rodgers signs the forward he desires in these final weeks of the transfer window.
Some reports, such as Rob Draper in the Mail on Sunday, claim Liverpool could yet acquire Radamel Falcao; the prospect of he and Sturridge alongside each other would certainly quell any questions over Suarez's replacement.
Similarly, though, once new signings Adam Lallana and Lazar Markovic are available, we may see Coutinho in a more central midfield three alongside Gerrard and Jordan Henderson. That would place Lallana and Sterling as the support players for Sturridge.
Sterling took his goal well, expertly supplied by Henderson, continuing to show his improved composure. The 19-year-old could yet become a more central figure in terms of his role within the side, playing closer to Sturridge through the middle than out wide.
*Maybe* missed Suarez but didn’t have Lallana, Moreno and Markovic. Sensible to start just 2 new signings today. Ease ‘em in. #LFC— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) August 17, 2014
Liverpool weren't convincing, but not many have been on this opening weekend—no doubt some clubs suffering from the exertions of the World Cup and some rather lengthy pre-season tours.
It was a slow start, but Liverpool collected points which gave Rodgers' side such a platform for their unexpected and enjoyable campaign last season. They built to a crescendo, ending the season with some of the best football Anfield has seen in 20 years.
With the right addition up front, improved fluidity from both a settled system and Lallana adding to the side, Liverpool should be able to find their spark—even without Suarez.