"Those two are right up there with the best in the country and you saw that today," declared Brendan Rodgers of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge following a three goal, two assist performance by Liverpool's strike pairing against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on Sunday afternoon. If both can stay fit and eligible, it will be hard to argue with the manager.
"Those two will only get better. You can see their understanding—we have done a lot of work with them together in training and they looked very, very bright. They are two different types as well, which makes it hard for defenders because one has pace, power, and two good feet, and the other is a wriggler and can shift his body very quickly and ends up in the box."
After an at times stumbling performance from the duo in their first game back together—against Manchester United in the League Cup on Wednesday—both were back to their best against Sunderland, and wherever Suarez might end up over the longer term, their combined quality speaks well to Liverpool's chances this season.
"He is not fazed by much," added Rodgers when asked to address Suarez in particular. "He has a remarkable mentality. His determination, the steel in his mindset, is phenomenal. He is just so focused and for us, he is like a new signing, really, coming back into the team. It's great for the team and it's great for the supporters. Our supporters deserve to see someone of that quality."
Rodgers wasn't the only one full of praise for Suarez' two-goal night, with midfielder Lucas Leiva quick to acknowledge the Uruguayan striker's importance to Liverpool's hopes for the coming season on a day that also saw the controversial striker celebrate the birth of his second child.
"Everyone was a bit worried as there was a lot of talk during the transfer window, but I’m so glad that he’s still with us," was Lucas' take on the Premier League return for Suarez. "Luis showed today with his performance that he is really committed to the team and to the club. He just wants to help us and we will try to help him too."
Mirroring the manager's take on things, Lucas similarly looked to Suarez' partnership with Daniel Sturridge as a reason for hope moving forward this season. And with injuries and suspensions limiting their playing time together since Sturridge arrived in January, Lucas expects it is a partnership that will only get better.
"When Dan arrived here, within a few months Luis got the ban so they didn’t have much chance to play many games together," he added. "But you could see today how well they linked up. The understanding between them is really good and it will only get better. It will improve over the course of the season and hopefully they will keep helping us with goals and assists."