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Joyful Sturridge Loving Life, Liverpool, and Luis

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After years spent as a fringe player with a questionable reputation, Daniel Sturridge just can't stop talking about how much he's enjoying himself at Liverpool.

Gareth Copley

Having arrived at Liverpool less than a year ago from Chelsea for what increasingly looks a bargain of a £12M fee, Daniel Sturridge has seemed to almost overnight change the narrative surrounding him as a player. This time last season he was talked about as surly, a poor teammate, and of wasting the obvious talents that had gotten him noticed in his early days at Manchester City.

Now, at least when he plays for Liverpool and especially when he plays alongside Luis Suarez, it can at times feel as though the years of question marks surrounding Sturridge might never have existed in the first place. Putting his days as a fringe player and outcast behind him, he's been key in the best league start Liverpool have had in ages and shows signs that he can continue to improve.

"We didn't lose any of our best players and we have continued to grow," was Sturridge's take when asked what exactly was at the root of Liverpool's success so far this season. "The great thing about this Liverpool squad 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."

Despite concerns due to reports that Sturridge wasn't always the best dressing room presence at Chelsea, almost from his first day at Liverpool he's been integral to the determined togetherness that has grown over the past year. And if Liverpool's strong team dynamic owes a lot to Sturridge's addition, Sturridge believes he wouldn't have been able to make the leap to where he is now as a player without Liverpool and manager Brendan Rodgers.

"The big thing for me is that I am able to play my natural game now," he insisted, referring to Chelsea's constant and largely unsuccessful attempts to refashion him as something of a winger. "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 [here] has said I play as a 'nine and a half,' and it's something my Dad and uncle 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."

Despite the odd hiccup that can come of two headstrong strikers sharing the line, much of that picture has been made by the manner in which Sturridge and Luis Suarez combine—something many had doubts about when the ex-Chelsea man joined in January. Both came into the partnership with reputations for wanting to go it alone, but while neither could be described as having embraced a pass first philosophy, the understanding between them has given Liverpool fans a renewed sense of hope.

"It's a very fluid partnership," said Sturridge of spearheading the attack alongside the Uruguayan international. "We can both adapt to the situations that arise in a game. If he sees me dropping deep, [he goes] 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."

Barring a major shock, the duo will get another chance to impress fans and terrorise opponents on Saturday, and a win could—at least for a few hours—put Liverpool on top of the table as the latest season's fourth month draws to a close.

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