Sept 29 (Reuters) - Liverpool emphatically answered the burning question of how Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge would work together after the Uruguayan’s lengthy ban as the pair combined with devastating effect in Sunday’s 3-1 win at Sunderland.
While Suarez was serving a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, Sturridge had established himself as Liverpool’s main man up front and this week’s return of the other top striker had pundits scratching their heads over how both would fit in.
In the event, manager Brendan Rodgers changed his formation to accommodate them and while they lost at Manchester United in the Capital One Cup midweek, the partnership’s potential shone in Sunderland as Sturridge scored one and set up two for Suarez.
The England striker leads the Premier League scoring chart with five goals but said he was more than happy to rack up the assists if required now that Suarez was back.
”Luis gives me angles to play,“ he told Sky Sports. ”For me it’s about getting assists as well as scoring, it’s about the team winning games and if someone is in a better position, you put them in and you allow them to score a goal.
“It’s great to have him back, it gives us options. He’s one of the best forwards in the league. We form a good partnership... I‘m happy to be playing with such world class players.”
Suarez had been a strong contender to be the league’s top scorer last term before he was hit with the suspension in April, eventually coming second to United’s Robin van Persie with 23 goals.
He looked sharp against Sunderland and with Sturridge proving he could be selfless in the buildup to a goal, the duo will hope to tear apart plenty more defences as Liverpool seek to re-establish themselves as a top-four team.
“He (Suarez) is getting the reward for his hard work over the period he was off,” said Rodgers, whose side are second in the table behind Arsenal with 13 points from six matches.
”He and Daniel up front are a real, real handful... we’ve changed our system a wee bit to suit the players we have, it works really well for us the 3-4-1-2 and those two at the tip of structure are exceptional.
“They combine very well, you see how they pass and how they move off each other.”
Sturridge’s 28th-minute opener was rather lucky as the ball went in off his upper arm rather than his head but the next two goals showed pure class.
A brilliant long pass from Steven Gerrard set Sturridge on his way and he showed excellent control to get past Carlos Cuellar and square for Suarez to tap home.
Suarez celebrated the goal by raising his shirt to reveal a T-shirt welcoming his new son into the world after he was born last week.
With Sunderland having pulled one back through Emanuele Giaccherini, Liverpool were keen to find another goal which came with one minute to go after a breakaway move where Suarez fed Sturridge who passed back to him to finish with ease.
“We worked hard as a team and that’s what it’s all about - the team ethic,” Sturridge said. (Reporting by Sonia Oxley; Editing by Alison Wildey)