How Will They Line Up: Liverpool vs Arsenal
Brendan Rodgers has backed Liverpool strikers Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez to claim a record-breaking Premier League goal haul -- even though he insists they are not a partnership.
The two forwards have scored 37 league goals this season -- Suarez has 23, Sturridge 14 -- and with 14 matches still to play, they are on course to make history.
Since the formation of the Premier League in 1992, Liverpool’s best top-flight partnership over the course of one season was Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore, who scored 42 times between them in 1995-96.
And Suarez and Sturridge could yet challenge the all-time club record of 52 league goals, shared in 1963-64 by Roger Hunt, who scored 31, and Ian St John, who netted 21.
Rodgers is coy on the possibility of his front two beating that record, but expects them to pass Fowler and Collymore’s total.
He said: “I certainly think they can better that, but my only focus is the team. They’re both different types of players. I wouldn’t say they’re a partnership. They both have a goalscoring mentality. They’ll arrive in the same areas, but how they get there is different. They’ve got different qualities.
“But they are both goalscorers, and prolific scorers. I hope they continue to do that. But we’re looking for other players to chip in as well.”
Both strikers are set to play a part as Liverpool attempt to boost their Champions League qualification chances by beating Premier League leaders Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday.
The Gunners were unsuccessful in their bid to sign an unsettled Suarez during the summer, although he has since stated his commitment to Liverpool by signing a contract extension through to 2018.
The Uruguay international has not scored this season against any of the three teams currently above Liverpool in the Premier League -- Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.
He did, though, score against them all last season, and Rodgers has no worries about the 26-year-old’s ability to cause problems for the league’s top teams.
The manager said: “I think he’s made an impact [against those teams]. He just hasn’t scored. But he certainly scored in those games last season when I was here, and he makes a great contribution to the team.
“The onus isn’t always on Luis to score the goals. It’s on the team. As long as he does his best and works hard, which he does in every single game, I’ll have no complaints with that.”
Liverpool turned in one of their poorest performances of last season when Arsenal won 2-0 at Anfield in September 2012.
That defeat came two days after the closing of a frustrating summer transfer window that had culminated in the Reds failing to sign a striker after allowing Andy Carroll to join West Ham on loan for the season.
At that stage, shortly after Rodgers’ arrival as manager, Liverpool were in the midst of their worst start to a season in 101 years, failing to win any of their opening five league games.
But they rallied to finish seventh, and the manager is hopeful that they can finish in the top four in May.
He said: “The big change for us is that we expect to win now. When I first came in, the pressure to win made it difficult for us.
“We expect it because of the size of the club. We were maybe never that confident to do it consistently. I think now, because of the level and consistency of our work, we go into every game expecting to win, and none more so than at Anfield.
“We can see that belief and expectancy in our results. We will always respect every opponent we play, and none more so than the leaders. But we’ll go into the game looking to perform and win.”