Sturridge and Suarez firing Liverpool to title challenge
Daniel Sturridge scored on his return from a six-week injury lay-off as Liverpool sealed a thrilling 5-3 victory over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium for the first time in the Premier League.
When the Reds were in the title hunt back in the 2008-2009 season, the Potters were one of their main sources of frustration. Two 0-0 draws against Tony Pulis’ men in that campaign hurt the Merseysiders’ bid to win the league and at half-time on Sunday - with the score at 2-2 - it appeared as though another poor result on their travels would obstruct the progress Brendan Rodgers’ side had made in 2013.
However, with the slender defeats at the home of title contenders Manchester City and Chelsea over the festive period aside, Liverpool are in impressive form. Sturridge’s goal at the weekend was the Reds’ fifty-first in the league this term - only Manuel Pellegrini’s sensational City side have struck more often.
Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez has also been in incredible goal-scoring form this season - the former Ajax star has notched 22 goals in just 16 top-flight appearances - which has kept Liverpool in and among the top teams.
With Suarez averaging more than a goal a game and Sturridge now back to fitness, the Reds have one of the most lethal strike forces in the division. The return of inspirational skipper Steven Gerrard is also timely and important. Rodgers has the bulk of his key players fit and raring to go ahead of what should be a testing yet exciting second-half of the campaign.
Liverpool’s form at Anfield has been almost perfect - they have won nine of their ten home fixtures so far - and the Reds have already faced many of the top sides on their travels.
As a result, the Reds’ remaining away clashes are against West Bromwich Albion, Fulham, Southampton, Manchester United, Cardiff City, West Ham United, Norwich City and Crystal Palace. Providing Gerrard and co can improve their away form and pick up further strong results at home, Liverpool are well-placed to seal a top-four finish come May.
Depending on how they fare against the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea, a title challenge may also be on the cards. Title talk, even at this stage of the season, may seem premature and it will take another few months of excellent form before Liverpool are considered as serious challengers to Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal.
However, another successful transfer window this month could significantly boost the Reds’ chances. During the last winter transfer window, Rodgers signed Sturridge and the Brazilian attacking midfield Philippe Coutinho - both have been big hits on Merseyside and helped Liverpool to improve. A repeat of such signings in positions such as defensive midfield and at left-back would help the Reds’ chances of an impressive finish this season and also for the future.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Liverpool v Aston Villa