Suspended from league action since April for sinking his teeth into Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic, Luis Suarez’ return was eagerly anticipated by Liverpool fans and Fantasy managers alike last weekend. Lining up alongside Daniel Sturridge as Brendan Rodgers rolled out a 3-4-1-2 formation for Sunday’s trip to Sunderland, the Uruguayan hogged the headlines for all the right reasons by bagging a brace against the beleaguered Black Cats to send the Merseysiders up to second in the table.

Sturridge, however, was not to be outdone. After literally handing his side into the lead, the January signing teed up both Suarez’ strikes to outscore his fellow forward by 14 points to 13 in the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game. With goals in five of his first six appearances, Sturridge now sits at the top of the FPL forward standings on 45 points – just one off Aaron Ramsey at the summit – and as the Reds prepare for the weekend visit of Crystal Palace, both he and Suarez have received significant investment with expectations high ahead of the Eagles clash.

We take a look at the weekend clash on Wearside and crunch the numbers in order to ascertain just what sort of impact Suarez’ return and Rodgers’ decision to move to a two-man frontline made on Sturridge’s performance.

Sturridge Average Positions Gameweeks 1-6

Liverpool v Sunderland GW6
Sturridge GW1-5

As the Liverpool map from last Sunday’s match (left) highlights, Suarez (7) found himself further up the field and more central when on the ball than Sturridge (15). The latter played slightly to his strike partner’s right, while behind them, it’s clear than Victor Moses (12) failed to provide adequate support from the role in “the hole” – indeed, the on-loan midfielder was almost identical to Steven Gerrard (8) when on the ball, as he continually dropped deep to look for possession.

Comparing Sturridge’s position to the previous matches (right), it’s clear to see he was less central than in any of the first five Gameweeks. Playing as a lone forward previously, he was also more advanced in all but one of Liverpool’s league games so far – back in Gameweek 2 away to Villa. Immediately, Suarez’s return has made an impact on his fellow forward’s position but, with the Uruguayan alongside him to share the forward duties, Sturridge registered his highest Fantasy points haul of the season, while Liverpool scored more than twice for the first time this season.

As we mentioned in Monday morning’s Scout Notes, Rodgers seems keen to utilise the duo and continue with the current system:

“We’ve changed the structure of our team a bit to allow us to pass it better – we’ve still got a lot of work to do – but also to fit in with the type of players that we have. Those two (Suarez and Sturridge) will only get better; you see the understanding. They looked very bright today. They have worked a lot in training – it’s not just something that has been dropped in. We looked at 3-4-1-2 towards the end of last season. We did some work on it, looking at Luis coming back, and they have struck up a very good partnership. “

Sturridge Gameweek 1-5 Versus Gameweek 6

Mins Tch Tchs Final 3rd Succ Pass Final 3rd Pass Rcvd Final 3rd Chances Crtd Tchs Box Shots Shots Box
GW1-5 2.1 26.2 8.2 13.2 0.6 6 3.2 2.4
GW6 1.9 23 11 16 2 4 1 1

Looking at the data from Sunday’s match in comparison to Sturridge’s averages over the first five, he was on the ball more often (1.9 minutes per touch to 2.1) against the Wearsiders. Although he had slightly less touches in the final third (23 compared to 26.2), Sturridge completed more passes (11 to 8.2) and was found more often by team-mates (16 passes received to 13.2) in the final third.

With more time on the ball up front and Suarez available alongside him, Sturridge upped his creativity – prior to Sunday’s encounter he had registered just 3 “key passes” in five games (0.6 per appearance) but against Sunderland he teed up 2 goalscoring opportunities, with Suarez converting both.

In terms of goal threat, though, there was a real dip. Sturridge’s touches in the box dropped from 6 down to 4, while his previous average of 3.2 shots fell to just 1 against the Wearsiders. The former Chelsea man scored with his only effort from inside the area – he had previously registered 2.4 attempts in the box, or 12 in the first five Gameweeks. Essentially, then, Sturridge may have racked up the points but Sunday was, ironically, his least threatening display so far.

Suarez Gameweek 6 Versus 2012/13

Mins Tch Tchs Final 3rd Succ Pass Final 3rd Pass Rcvd Final 3rd Chances Crtd Tchs Box Shots Shots Box
GW6 1.2 53 23 29 0 6 7 4
2012-13 1.4 42 15.2 22.8 2.7 11 5.7 3.8

A comparison between Suarez’ display at Sunderland and his numbers from last term is intriguing. The Uruguayan averaged a touch every 1.2 minutes compared to 1.4 in the season gone by, with an incredible 53 touches in the Sunderland final third – comfortably beating his 2012/13 average of 42 and more than double Sturridge’s total (23) at the weekend.

His total 23 successful passes in the final third was again more than twice what his strike-partner had to offer (11) and was superior to his stats from last term (15.2), while Suarez also received a significant number of passes more than Sturridge (29 to 16) in the final third – again, this is up on the previous 22.8.

Suarez did, however, fail to supply a single goalscoring opportunity for others in the 3-1 win. Given that he registered 2.7 chances created per game in 2012/13 and that his final third involvement was significantly up, this was something of a surprise. When it comes to goal threat, his touches inside the box almost halved – an average of 11 last term dropped to 6 on Sunday, suggesting he’s still to fully find his match sharpness after such a lengthy lay-off, though this was, nonetheless, still greater than Sturridge’s 4.

Suarez’ total of 7 shots to his strike partner’s 1, however, is the real eye-catching statistic here, and a factor that many will surely consider when eyeing up their prospects over the next few days. Although he seemed to snatch at a few of his efforts, what’s encouraging for Suarez owners is that he 4 of his 7 attempts were from inside the box – both are improvements upon last season’s 3.8 and 5.7 respectively.

While it’s a little too early to make any assumptions from the data, Suarez owners will likely be the happier when assessing the numbers from Sunday’s game. What the stats can’t obviously judge is the Uruguayan’s intentions – at time on Sunday he seemed almost too eager to fire off an effort rather than steady himself before shooting, perhaps in an attempt to atone for his time off and subsequent attempt to engineer a move to Arsenal over the summer.

Sturridge owners will be content with the fact that, in spite of a statistically poorer performance, he still produced his highest Fantasy score of the season. His pair of assists also indicate that, with Suarez alongside him, he’ll perhaps be less inclined to simply fire in a hopeful effort on goal and instead look for a killer pass from time to time. With home games also against West Brom and Fulham, in addition to a trip to Newcastle in the next five, Fantasy managers holding one, or even both, will have every reason to be optimistic, then.

*The Technical Area is put together using the statistics and maps available in our members area. For access to such data and tools on every player, team and match of the 2013/14 season, and for exclusive members articles like this, click here for details.

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  1. Injuries are really screwing everything up this season. It's been several weeks since I was able to make a tranny out of choice rather than necessity.

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
    1. +1, since my wc was Coutinho,Walcott,Benteke,Chester,Brady.

      • 2 years, 2 days ago
      1. -4 last week,-4 this week and still have brady and chester btw 😐

        • 2 years, 2 days ago
        1. Chester , Williams for me - No Benching issues here

          • 2 years, 2 days ago
    2. Well said where do we complain ?
      I'm plain sick of this.

      • 2 years, 2 days ago
      1. You can join me on the scoutcast where I vented all last season about injuries. It can be very cathartic.

        • 2 years, 2 days ago
        1. You could be Steve Bruce and have the headache for real....

          • 2 years, 2 days ago
      2. You can complain on the new post :)

        • 2 years, 2 days ago
  2. A) start with shelvey ( saints away)
    B) start with delph ( hull away)
    C) -4 hit to replace ferdinand with a liverpool defender ( crystal palace home)
    your thoughts pleae ???

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
  3. goal honda, tozic assist

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
    1. JJO

      its Tosic,he played for Utd

      • 2 years, 2 days ago
    2. Suzuki assist, Yamaha started action :)

      • 2 years, 2 days ago
  4. Team is

    Boruc mcgregor
    Coleman zab williams dawson burner
    Ozil michu eriksen hba barkley
    Giroud sturridge lukaku

    1ft 1.6 in the bank,worth saving the transfer?

    Or go hba to ramsey?x

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
    1. Get rid of HBA!

      • 2 years, 2 days ago
  5. I rarely see a team on here with Nolan in - I know he is a plodder and lost without his big mate but he is only 5 points or less behind HBA, Michu, Oscar and Paulinho. Anyone still got him?

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
  6. Last year i play 12 Head to Head and i won every single League, also i play 4 classic League and i win every single.
    This year after 6 Game Weeks i have 260 pts....blody awfull! I thinking to stop play this game! :(

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
  7. New Post
  8. Anyone else already do their transfers for the week and now are nervous with a whole day of Champions League to go? lol..knock on wood!

    • 2 years, 2 days ago
  9. I have just transferred out RVP and have 7.1 in the bank.

    Who should I get to play up front.

    1. Berahino

    2. Crouch

    3. Graham

    • 2 years, 21 hours ago

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Gameweek 8

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Down André Ayew SWA C, Vs
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Down Y Touré MCI B, Vs, Inj
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Selection Factors

A, B, C Current Form
Vs Favourable Fixtures
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Clark AVL 4
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Jones SUN 4
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Noble WHM 4

“All players will blank a few times during the season. When almost all do it in the same Gameweek, it is tough to take, but that's just the dark side of probability.”

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