Attackers might tend to get all the plaudits, but though it was hard to look past Luis Suarez as Liverpool's best last season, in recent years the club's standout performers have often been found in the less glamourous positions further back the pitch. Before Suarez scored 23 goals in 33 games last term—and came within a bite of winning Premier League player of the year honours in the process—the club's top performers were centre half Martin Skrtel in 2011-12 and defensive midfielder Lucas Leiva in 2010-11.
Sticking to that theme, despite nine league goals apiece from Suarez and Daniel Sturridge, the early frontrunner this season would have to be Simon Mignolet, with the club's new goalkeeper seeming almost single-handedly responsible for at least half of the 24 points the club have racked up after 12 games. As much fun as Suarez and Sturridge are to watch, and as important as their goals have been, it is Mignolet who has been most responsible for Liverpool averaging two points per game over the opening three months.
"Simon is a top-class goalkeeper," said Sturridge when asked who he had seen as Liverpool's best performers in the latest derby match against Everton, and Liverpool fans around the globe all nodded in agreement. "At the start of the season everyone saw what he was all about with that penalty save against Stoke City. He set himself a standard. It's difficult as a 'keeper to be unbelievable in every game. But Simon is an unbelievable guy on and off the field and we're so happy to have him here."
Beyond Mignolet's heroics—heroics that are increasingly expected from the Belgian shot stopper—Sturridge also found time to single out Jon Flanagan for praise after the youngster put in a strong performance filling in at the unfamiliar left back position. So good was his game against Everton that many will expect Flanagan in the starting eleven in the coming weeks while Jose Enrique rehabilitates from knee surgery. Given he started the season as an afterthought, that's not something anybody can honestly say they saw coming.
"I thought Jon Flanagan was man of the match against Everton and everyone was so happy for him," said Sturridge. "He works tirelessly every day in training. He's a top-class lad off the field. I love the guy. He's been patient waiting for his opportunity and he has taken his chance. There is so much talent running through this team. It's not about individuals, it's about Liverpool Football Club and it's great to be part of it."
With matches against bottom half sides Hull, Norwich, and West Ham next on the menu, whatever else Liverpool is about and whoever it is who's the star of any particular match, the next few weeks will have to be about taking maximum points before things get a whole lot tougher against Tottenham, Manchester City, and Chelsea.
More from The Liverpool Offside:
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- Gerrard: "Luis is a Machine"
- Sturridge Will Always Answer Hodgson's Call
- Everything's the Worst: Six of the Best Edition
- Rodgers Airs Sturridge Disappointment