In an exclusive chat with FourFourTwo, Liverpool and England striker Daniel Sturridge discusses his club's fine start to the season, his partnership with Luis Suarez and how the Uruguayan compares to Fernando Torres.
Liverpool are flying high in the Premier League at the moment, why have you had such a fine start to the season?
There are a number of factors. We ended last season quite strongly and we've got some really talented players here.
We enjoyed the pre-season and the manager brought a few new faces in. We didn't lose any of our best players and we have continued to grow as a team. We've had some great results and got good momentum. Hopefully we can continue in the same vein and keep fighting at the top of the table.
The great thing about this Liverpool squad as a whole is that we have got a fantastic camaraderie. There's a really positive atmosphere within the group and there's always top banter flying about. We really do pull together as one and it's important if we are to achieve our aims on the pitch.
You are joint top-scorer in the Premier League this season and have scored 21 goals in 29 appearances for the Reds since January. Do you feel vindicated now that you’re doing the business as a striker at Liverpool?
I'm thankful to God and to the manager for giving me the opportunity to play upfront. The big thing for me is that I am able to play my natural game now. It's difficult when you are moved out of position because you have to adapt your game and change the way you play. The way you move and the way you receive the ball is totally different. So, I'm just happy I'm finally playing where I feel I am at my best.
The manager has said I play as a 'nine and a half' and it's something my Dad (former Birmingham trainee, Michael) and my uncle (former Derby and Wolves striker, Dean) have both used to describe me in the past. I'm kind of in between positions. When I was younger I was a number nine playing up front but I liked to drop deep like a number 10. I try to use my strengths to add to the team. Everybody's talents fitting together in the right way makes for a beautiful picture.
Have you ever scored a better goal than that chip against West Brom in October?
Probably not in a first team environment, no. When I was 16 or 17 I think there were a few that were better. I got one from the half-way line that was a bit special! I used to see Deco do that chip in training at Chelsea and it was great to pull off the same piece of skill in a game situation.
Liverpool have utilised a 3-5-2 formation at times this season - how do you feel about playing in that system?
It's great, but I don't think we are restricted in terms of how we set up. I wouldn't say it is our formation. We've played 4-3-1-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 as well. We feel capable of playing in a variety of formations and that adaptability is one of our strengths. We've used a number of different ones since I moved here. We all believe in the manager and if he selects a particular system we all go out and look to do our jobs to the best of our ability.
You've struck up a formidable partnership with Luis Suarez. Why do you think the SAS has developed into one of Europe's most potent strike-forces?
It's a very fluid partnership. We can both adapt to the situations that arise in a game. If he sees me dropping deep, I'll go long and vice versa. We make runs that we both instinctively know the other one is going to make. We look for each other all the time and it's a beautiful link-up to be a part of. It's a joy to be involved with this team and to partner Luis in attack. It's great to play alongside a world class player like him.
Who would make the better SAS soldier?
(Laughs) I'm not too sure how to answer that! I think we've both got our own, unique attributes. I suppose it's a case of what the sergeant wants!
How worried were you that Suarez would move on in the summer and how did the squad react to him coming back in after being so vocal about leaving?
In all honesty, I wasn't worried. Liverpool is a massive club. Top players belong here. Luis fits into that category and this is the ideal place for him to enjoy his football. The club made it clear they wanted him to stay and we are all delighted to have him out there fighting for the shirt with us. There were never any problems from the players' perspective.
Tell us a bit more about your relationship with Brendan Rodgers. He's clearly been a massive influence on you...
As a coach and manager I think he ticks all the boxes and I'm so happy that he's given me this opportunity. I'm so thankful to him for showing belief in me. I take on board all of his advice because he's the manager of the club.
You played with a former Liverpool hero at Chelsea, in the shape of Fernando Torres. How does he compare to Suarez?
I don't feel there is that much difference between them as they are world class footballers, although obviously they have contrasting styles. Torres is more of an out-and-out goalscorer and Luis is a bit more like me, where he can play through the middle but drop off and have a dribble at different times. They have both scored goals for fun in the Premier League and Torres was frightening at Liverpool.
They are great finishers in their own right but I didn't play in a front two with Torres, so it's difficult for me to make an accurate comparison.
I love playing with Luis and we link up so well together, but I was out on the wing a lot when I was in the same team as Nando. It's worked out better for me at Liverpool and it's really clicked with Luis but I wouldn't say I have any preference over which one I would rather play with. I feel privileged to have shared a pitch with each of them.