Is it all smooth sailing from here, now that Luis Suarez has Daniel Sturridge playing with him at the front? Probably not, but it’s hard to deny the impact Sturridge has had since arriving at Liverpool and the way the entire team looks better when he plays. Or maybe it’s just the Norwich factor kicking in.
Some opponents just make you look good. Liverpool were in big trouble earlier this season until their visit to Carrow Road, beating the Canaries 5-2. Luis Suarez is salivating when he faces the canaries, and added another goal to his impressive tally against Chris Houghton’s team.
Brendan Rodgers maybe, just maybe, has found the lineup he needs to play with, offensively at least. Jamie Carragher was hardly troubled next to Daniel Agger, but it’s quite clear to everyone that he’s not first team material anymore. Andre Wisdom might turn out to be a fine right back some day, but right now is not that day.
But as you move forward, things look a lot better. When Joe Allen isn’t in the lineup but Jordan Henderson is, that’s a good start. Allen doesn’t make any attempt to look even slightly dangerous, while his physical inferiority has cost Liverpool more than once. Now that Henderson is no longer playing on the right wing like Dalglish loved to used him, his good first touch and mobility are much more appreciated. It also seems that his understanding with Steven Gerrard is much better than what Allen has with the Liverpool captain.
Stewart Downing may not be scintillating but he does a very good job on the right wing, looking much more dangerous when he cuts into the middle from there than he does when he plays on the left. He does leave an option of switching wings and becoming more of a crossing threat when necessary, but playing on the side of his weaker foot seems to be the best option considering him.
And then there are Sturridge and Suarez. Even without a striker playing alongside him, Suarez is one of the best in the Premier League. Now that Sturridge is there to draw some focus and become someone to play off of, Liverpool’s striker tandem becomes one of the best in the league. When Sturridge gets opportunities, he usually makes the most of them, as he showed with Bolton and during the Andre Villas-Boas era with Chelsea.
This leaves Fabio Borini and Raheem Sterling where they should be – as options from the bench. Sterling needs some time off, both for his ego and for his development, instead of starting every match when he’s barely 18. Fabio Borini was thrown into the deep waters way too early, but it’s good to actually have a striker that can come off the bench for once.
Now all that Liverpool need is a manager who isn’t afraid to play with the same tactics on the road against a “big” team. Liverpool haven’t beaten a top 10 team this season, and the way they come out of their trips to the Emirates and the Etihad stadium might have a big say if Sturridge’s arrival means they’re headed to Europe or just another disappointing season of a top half, but nothing more than that, finish.