This time last week, things were about as good as they get if you're a Liverpool fan who has come to grips with where the club has found itself in recent seasons. It may not have been league glory and famous European nights; it may not have been top tier trophies and the top four taken as automatic. But still, given the tail end of the Hicks and Gillett era and given the Roy Hodgson experiment and Kenny Dalglish's stalled return and now missing out on Europe entirely for the second time in three years, things were pretty good.
Liverpool were off to their best start in ages, with a chance at going top of the league with a win over Arsenal on the weekend and deadliest striker duo in England leading the attack. Behind them, Liverpool's midfielders had just turned in the best performance of Brendan Rodgers' tenure against West Bromwich Albion, and the 3-5-2 experiment looked to be working. Then it came time to actually play the Arsenal match that could have put them top of the league and the bottom fell out.
Things went worst most quickly in midfield, with Lucas unimpressive after being largely abandoned to face the league leaders' cohesive, fluid midfield on his own when Steven Gerrard quickly ran out of gas and with Jordan Henderson turning in his poorest performance of the season. For Henderson, only a late move to fullback would provide anything like a positive lining to put on an otherwise lost and aimless cloud of an afternoon. For Gerrard and Lucas, there wasn't any kind of silver lining.
Up front, the previously deadly duo of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge weren't doing much better, and for the two strikers, a match filled with frustrations came to a head in the final minutes and had body language experts around the globe thinking Liverpool's previously harmonious dressing room had just gone up in flames. The result on Saturday may not have been a good one for Liverpool, but Sturridge at least has some good news for fans fearing more than just the game might have been lost.
"It’s great to play with him," said the England striker when asked about his relationship with Suarez during an appearance on TalkSport following the match. "We give defenders problems and we both play differently, so it’s good to have a strike partner you can bounce off. We get on well and that's the most important thing—there's no rivalry there, no hidden agendas. We both go out and work hard to help the team. It's not about the SAS strike-force, it's about the team, and we just try to do what we do best."
What they do best, at least on most weekends, is score goals, and the duo headed into the weekend first and third in Premier League scoring. Sturridge still sits top of the scoring charts with eight goals, though after Sergio Aguero scored against Norwich he now has some company, and Suarez' six markers—especially impressive given he started the season suspended—still have him in the running for the golden boot.
"It’s been going great for him and everybody wants him to stay and it’s up to Luis to decide what he wants to do," added Sturridge when asked about whether he thinks Suarez will still be around in May to contend for the league's scoring title. "We as a club, the fans and the players, everybody wants him to stay, but if Luis wants to decide it’s best for him to move on then that’s the way it’s got to be. But I think everybody wants Luis to stay and I’m sure that he will."
As with most watching from the outside, there's obviously some doubt in Sturridge's mind about just what Suarez' long-term future holds, yet that's hardly surprising. What's encouraging, then, isn't his tentative belief Suarez is likely to stay but rather that after a match that left some wondering if he was ready to take a swing at the Uruguayan for not passing him the ball in the dying minutes, Sturridge is most certainly still hoping that Suarez sticks around.
Sturridge's hopes are further bolstered by Suarez' interview with Uruguay's Sport 890 following Saturday's match, where the striker insisted there was no truth—at least as far as he and his representatives knew it—to rumours Real Madrid were already at work on a deal to bring him to Spain in January. Today, further quotes from the interview emerged, strengthening that position and suggesting that, one bad day against Arsenal aside, Liverpool's squad isn't on the verge of a meltdown quite yet.
"When I [trained away from the squad], the players told me they didn’t like that and wanted me to be with the group," he said. "Today I feel very supported by my team-mates, and I appreciate their support. The support of the fans was also very important. I always could walk on the street with no trouble. I was never threatened or anything like that—the people told me to stay. I feel part of things at Liverpool. It is my home. I am comfortable and happy here. I continue to work hard for Liverpool and I will always be thankful to the club, and to my team-mates."
So Daniel Sturridge still likes Luis Suarez and Luis Suarez likes everybody, presumably including Daniel Sturridge. And with a relatively easy stretch of matches on the horizon, if Liverpool can rediscover the kind of form they brought into the Arsenal match rather than allowing themselves to be dragged down by what happened on Saturday, it might not be long before everything's again looking about as good as it gets for a Liverpool fan. At least judging things by the standards of the last few years.