For those who questioned Daniel Sturridge and his ability to blend in with another dominant forward on the side, the comeback game for Luis Suarez proved that not only does it not hurt anyone’s ability to play together, but actually make Liverpool a better team when the two are on the pitch.
Liverpool without Suarez simply aren’t the same kind of team. Few strikers in the world are so good they can fill in for the absence of a left winger and an attacking midfielder. But Suarez is that restless on the pitch, even after not playing club football since March of last season, and carrying some sort of knock on his thigh since the first half.
Liverpool came away with the 3-1 from Sunderland with some of the old problems still intact, but one big reason to smile about their prospects this season. Suarez is hungry for goals, even if he didn’t get to make his dream transfer this summer. It’s still a very long season, and that second place might somewhat of a mirage, but if Rodgers fixes his issues in the midfield while gets Glen Johnson and Philippe Coutinho back in a hurry, remaining in the Champions League picture isn’t so far fetched anymore.
Liverpool once again needed some diligence from Simon Mignolet in order to come up with the win, especially in the first half, but it was also the first time this season we’ve seen some faults from the Belgian goalkeeper. His decisions on crosses weren’t always filling his teammates with confidence, and he could have done much better with his parry that resulted in the Sunderland goal.
Liverpool’s wings and midfield continue to look a mess and absent. Steven Gerrard isn’t playing like last season, because he seems to have too much ground to cover. It looked like Liverpool were changing formations as the match drew on, but they did look their best when an actual winger like Raheem Sterling was on the pitch, enabling Jordan Henderson to join Gerrard and Lucas in the middle. Victor Moses isn’t the answer for attacking midfielder – he’d be much more useful on the wing, even if he doesn’t track wing backs as well as Henderson.
For the left side of the attack, right now Jose Enrique is doing everything. Defending, attacking, a bit too much. But the arrival of Suarez gives Liverpool a two striker formation, who are both forwards who switch wings and play a lot wider than others. It helps counter the wing problem for Liverpool, at least on the left side, but most importantly creates a striking duo that just might be the best in the Premier League.
Something different in Liverpool this season is the grit and ability to pull through rough situations, as long as Rodgers doesn’t fail his own team with experimental tactics. Even without Daniel Agger, Liverpool were quite solid in the back, as Kolo Toure is looking like one of the best signings this season with his free transfer price tag, doing a very good job as right back, while Mamadou Sakho continues to adapt and gain match fitness and instincts.
With Luis Suarez, Liverpool aren’t that far from those considered as title contenders, while some of them – Chelsea and the Manchester teams, are still looking to find their form in this new season. As long as depth doesn’t become and issue and Rodgers moves Henderson to the middle or drops him in favor of Sterling, this mountain air the club is breathing right now shouldn’t change for quite a while.