As I noted in my last post, Liverpool are scoring so many goals that all manner of Premier League records have already gone or are in their sights to be broken. The much fabled Suárez and Sturridge partnership added four to their tally for the season at Cardiff on Saturday, so I thought it would be interesting to see how regularly Liverpool have scored both with and without the duo on the pitch this season.
Whilst the following table does not prove anything, it’s still interesting to see how Liverpool have fared when either of their illustrious strike pairing has been missing. There has inevitably been a drop in scoring rate, but the Reds have still been one of the league’s most prolific teams.
Only Manchester City have scored goals more often than Liverpool have when one or both of Suárez and Sturridge have not been on the pitch (albeit the ‘without both’ sample amounts to a paltry six minutes). It’s interesting to note that this version of the Reds would (in theory, if the scoring rate is extrapolated across the whole season) still have scored sixty-four goals by now. It’s worth noting that the goals by Sturridge and Suárez alone, when playing together, are also only behind City at this point.
The teams that have finished fourth historically have averaged sixty-three goals across the whole season, so it’s not inconceivable that Liverpool would still be on track for their primary aim this season of Champions League qualification even if one of their strikers had been absent for a very long period, rather than the small spells they’ve each missed.
Equally though, just marvel at how prolific Liverpool have been when both players have been on the pitch together. The Reds would in theory have already scored 101 league goals this season if the scoring rate had been maintained across the whole campaign to date. Brendan Rodgers’ Reds have demonstrated a truly remarkable goal scoring rate when their main front duo have played together.
I thought it would also be interesting to see how Liverpool have performed over the entire of Rodgers’ tenure both with and without Suárez and Sturridge on the pitch together. Obviously Sturridge wasn’t at Anfield for the first half of Rodgers’ debut campaign, but the figures still make for fascinating reading.
With one of their talismanic strikers missing, Rodgers’ Liverpool average 1.85 goals per game; for context, this team would be below only Manchester City and Chelsea for goals scored in this season’s Premier League. The rate when both have played is a shade down on the figure for 2013/14 alone, but it still equates to 116 league goals across a full season.
To answer the question in the title of this piece, I would say that Liverpool’s improbable title challenge does appear to be reliant upon both Suárez and Sturridge being on the pitch together. However, I think the figures here also demonstrate that the Reds wouldn’t be too reliant upon the pair of them in order to be competitive at the top end of the Premier League, and all the credit in the world has to go to Brendan Rodgers for that.