When Sturridge was bought off the bench against Stoke City after a two month layoff following an ankle injury, it was a great joy for Liverpool fans who had only seen their two star strikers play seven games so far this season. With the score at 3-2 to Liverpool, the substitution summed up Brendan Rodger’s intent to continue attacking and kill off the game even though his team were leading. The impact Sturridge made when entering the fold was as good as anyone could’ve hoped for and with him and Suarez working in tandem again, it’s like they had never been away. The SAS strike force is back and hopefully together they can guide Liverpool to great things come the end of the season.
We are past the half way stage in the season now, with each team now having played 21 games so far. In one of the most fascinating seasons in recent time, Liverpool sit in 4th place, six points behind the leaders Arsenal but only five points ahead of 7th place Manchester United. Now with both our main strikers fit, it could mean the difference between dropping out of the Champions League positions or pushing for title until the end.
With Suarez’s inability to play at the start of the season due to his ban, it was up to Sturridge to show he can lead the line for Liverpool, and didn’t he just. By scoring the winners in all of the first three games and guiding the team to their best start in years, the fans didn’t seem to be missing Suarez all that much. Suarez made his much anticipated comeback against Sunderland and the impact of the duo was as effective as ever. With Sturridge opening the scoring and Suarez notching two goals himself on his return, it was a sign of things to come. In the seven games in which they had featured together prior to Sturridge’s injury, they managed 13 goals between them, almost an average of two every game. After it was confirmed that Sturridge would be out of action for a few months, it was time for Suarez to deliver on his own and by scoring ten goals in December alone, it was evident that both our strikers could deliver not only together but solo as well. To put highlight their importance to the team, they have scored 32 goals between them this season, that is more than 14 of the 19 other teams overall goals tally in the Premier League.
Firstly, we shall look at the individual stats from the two players this season and how they have contributed to The Reds impressive first half to the campaign. With Sturridge’s injury, he has played around 430 minutes less than Suarez so his overall stats will be lower than those of Suarez. With that being said, we’ll concentrate on the stats that show averages rather than totals. Suarez is way in front in the goal scoring charts with 22 goals and 5 assists in just an incredible 16 appearances so far. Sturridge himself has chipped in with 10 goals and 3 assists in 11 starts and 2 substitute appearances (both of which he scored in). Their chance conversion rates are also at an impressive 28% and 26% respectively. At the moment, Suarez is astonishingly averaging a goal every 65.36 minutes, whilst Sturridge is averaging a goal almost every game at 100.9, something every striker wants to aim for. If that wasn’t impressive enough, they have MPI averages 53.26 and 77.62, which means they are both comfortably involved with an assist or a goal every game.
As a partnership however, they are even deadlier with stats that comfortably better their individual numbers. In the eight games they’ve played in together so far, they have scored 15 goals, averaging around two every game. Overall in those 8 games, the team itself has scored 24, an average of three every game which shows the impact they have on their team-mates to pursue attacking opportunities. They have assisted four goals for each other so far, with one of them coming against Stoke for Suarez’s 2nd goal. Now here are the interesting stats, together they average a goal every 37.3 minutes, average an assist every 140 mins, and amazingly the MPI rate for them as a duo is at 29.5. In simple terms it means that in the games they have played, between them they average three assists or goals in every game. Now if that is not a top strike force I’m not sure what is.
Liverpool have to look at their fixtures now and feel that this is their best opportunity in years to return to the Champions League or even a title push depending on how results pan out. With the six of the seven teams around them still having to come to Anfield where they have been prolific this season, it is a great chance to stamp their authority and show they belong in those top four positions, having been off the pace in recent seasons. Further yet, the nine away fixtures still to play include the bottom seven teams in the division. Now these matches are by no means easy wins but with the way the team has played against clubs in the bottom half of the table, you have to be pretty confident of positive results with SAS and co on your side. If both these players can stay fit for the rest of the season, we could see them cementing their place as one of the best striking partnerships in the Premier League in recent times.