Since Daniel Sturridge’s arrival a month ago our midfield has adapted and for me, improved as a collective.
Before January, Suarez was our main and only ‘real’ goal threat and it was only due to his sheer ingenuity and persistence that we have come out of the first half of the season relatively unscathed.
Brendan Rogers stated before Sturridge signed that Suarez may have to adopt or even change his position to accommodate our new arrival, which at first seemed to me to be a bad move (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it). However what would become clear is that it was the midfield that was ‘broken’.
Allen had been reliable but had appeared tired and often at a creative loss during games. Gerrard has always been the get out of jail free card for us, but has mostly thrived when able to roam through a game with more than one player whose movement can create that extra yard for his shooting boots to be darned, such as his excellent goal against City which should have been the match winner. Jordan Henderson is a player not without mistakes, but has bags of ability and for the majority of the time, been played out of his natural central position.
For so much of the season Suarez has been isolated; when he comes deep to collect the ball the opposition defence pushes up, sending the likes of Allen, Lucas, Gerrard and Henderson further into our own half and stifling our creativity.
With Sturridge the extra dimension is clear: his pace and work rate stretch the opposition’s defence allowing Henderson and Gerrard to push into space, giving them that extra split second to pick out a pass or even a shot at goal. At the same time, Suarez is able to adopt the Rooney type role and drift wide, as well have somebody with pace ahead of him to feed in on goal. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we have recently scored a handful of goals from the edge of the area, as previously there was no midfielder high enough up the pitch to occupy the space.
The fact that Sturridge has so quickly slotted into Liverpool’s system is a testament to the style of play that Brendan Rodgers and Mike Marsh have implemented within the team: hard working, aggressive and attacking football.
Liverpool has what I believe to be a near world class midfield and with the arrival of Philippe Coutinho, that extra dimension of creativity surely means our midfield goal tally will keep rising.