'Suarez and Sturridge most lethal strikeforce'
By Telegraph Sport and Agencies | Published: 30th September 2013 09:46 PM |
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has hailed Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge as the most lethal strikeforce in the Premier League after watching them shoot down struggling Sunderland.
Suarez marked his return to league action after a 10-game ban with a double after Sturridge had opened the scoring at the Stadium of Light, with the former Chelsea man setting up both of his sidekick's successful efforts.
Their contribution saw Liverpool claim a 3-1 victory which propelled them into second place in the table and left Sunderland rooted to the bottom with just one point from a possible 18 so far this season.
Rodgers said: "I am not sure there are two better in the league, in all honesty.
"There are some wonderful partnerships around - you have got [Robin] Van Persie and [Wayne] Rooney up there, who are outstanding.
"We have changed the structure of our team a wee bit to allow us to pass it better - we have still got an awful of work to do - and also to fit in with the types of players we have.
"Those two are right up there with the best in the country and you saw that today.
"The [second] goal, Steven Gerrard makes an absolutely breathtaking pass out of pressure and Daniel's touch, pace and power takes him in, and he has shown that quality just to roll the ball in for Luis to get his finish.
"Those two will only get better. You can see their understanding - we have done a lot of work with them together in training and they looked very, very bright today.
"They are two different types as well, which makes it hard for defenders because one has pace, one has power and two good feet, and the other is a wriggler and can shift his body very quickly and ends up in the box.
"The dynamics of them are very good."
There was an element of good fortune about Sturridge's 28th-minute opener when he attempted to head home Gerrard's left-wing corner, but actually bundled the ball over the line with his arm, although not in the sight-line of referee Howard Webb.
Rodgers said with a smile: "He needs to work on his heading, I think. He has actually been working on his heading, believe it or not, Daniel Sturridge.
"He meant to head it and it missed his head and hit his arm and went in, and if you watch it again, if you look at the reaction of the Sunderland players, there's not one reacted to it being handball."
But it was then that Suarez, making his first league appearance since April 21, took over, tapping home from close range from Sturridge's ball eight minutes before the break, and then after Emanuele Giaccherini had pulled a goal back seven minutes into the second half, finishing off a fine counter-attack by steering home the same man's cross.
Rodgers praised the Uruguay international's mental strength on his return from his extended lay-off.
He said: "He is not fazed by much. He has a remarkable mentality. His determination, the steel in his mindset, is phenomenal.
"He is just so focused and for us, he is like a new signing, really, coming back into the team.
"It's great for the team and it's great for the supporters. Our supporters deserve to see someone of that quality, but his talent deserves to be out on the field rather than sitting in the stand, and that's something that we are working very hard in order to make sure that happens this season."
Despite the defeat, Sunderland's interim head coach Kevin Ball was able to take positives from the game.
He said: "I'd be a fool if I hadn't been encouraged by it. A lot of credit should be given to them.
"They have worked hard his week. Yes, they would have liked to have got a result in the game today, but it definitely wasn't for the want of trying.
"Going forward, I have told them that must always be the case. Irrespective of whoever is in charge, they must be the ones who drive it on and not necessarily the man in charge."
Ball is yet to discover if he is to remain in charge for Manchester United's visit to Wearside next Saturday.
He said: "To be honest with you, I wouldn't like to say. If they [the Board] want me to and wanted me to take it forward, great. If they want to do something else, like I have said in the past, that's their prerogative.
"But I have no doubt tomorrow will come and they will ask to speak to us."