By David Lynch
Strike partnerships are something of a dying art in the modern game - a trend which peaked in the 1990s but has since gone out of fashion.
Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole, Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, and Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn are just three examples of the deadly duos which once ruled the Premier League. Unfortunately for fans of the football telepathy which we often witnessed in those halcyon days, things have somewhat changed.
The prevalence of single-striker formations and the rarer flirtation with 'false nines' has shifted the emphasis of modern formations. The use of 4-4-2 is now a thing of the past, a situation which has resulted in strike pairings reaching near extinction.
Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge are the fledgling combination which harks back to those glory days - with fledgling being the operative word. Sturridge's introduction halfway through Liverpool's defeat to Manchester United on January 13 hinted at what was to come but only in their first start together against Norwich City on Saturday was the potential fully evident.
The understanding was clear from the off, with the instincts which require each man to make different movements towards goal appearing to have been forged in just two weeks of training together.
It is that fact which will be most encouraging to Reds fans because, put simply, it tends to be the sign of an excellent player. With Suarez's status as one the league's best strikers already assured, then it follows that Sturridge too might one day attract the acclaim of his Uruguayan cohort should they continue to prove so deadly together.
The awareness shown to create the second goal against the Canaries testified to this potential, as the Birmingham-born forward allowed the ball through his legs for Suarez to run in on goal and score. Sturridge showed awareness bordering clairvoyance to help set up his partner and the 25-year-old's subsequent finish provided a fitting reward for a fine piece of football.
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Strikers such as Robbie Keane and Peter Crouch were on the books at Anfield at various points during the reign of Gerrard and Torres but neither could present a compelling enough case to force their manager to start two strikers. However, the instantaneous nature of Sturridge's impact – having become the first player to score in their first three games for the club since Ray Kennedy in 1974 – means that Rodgers has no choice but to shuffle his pack.
The unusual decision to deploy Jordan Henderson on the left-hand side of midfield suggests that the Northern Irishman may have already found a way to make things work by hook or by crook. However, Raheem Sterling is certain to do his utmost in order to change his manager's mind about whether he should be involved in that new-look team.
This competition for places is indicative that Rodgers is set to channel yet another football concept which has perhaps been cliched in recent times; that Suarez and Sturridge are the first names on the teamsheet.
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