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Watch: Daniel Sturridge v. Stoke

Despite a Luis Suarez brace, in the end the biggest positive for Liverpool against Stoke was the return of Daniel Sturridge, as the striker got back into the action with a goal and an assist.

Laurence Griffiths

The backline may have continued to instil fear in the heart of every watching Liverpool fan, and Brendan Rodgers' midfield may remain an issue of contention for many, and Luis Suarez may have once again delivered a world class performance. Yet despite all that, the focus for many Liverpool fans will today be what happened 66 minutes in, when Daniel Sturridge returned from a nine game absence looking like he hadn't missed a beat.

Despite having missed more than a month and a half with an ankle injury, Sturridge was in top form, running at an increasingly stretched Stoke defence as the hosts pushed forward in need of goals. He looked sharp on the ball, with little sign of rust in his first touch or dribbling. Perhaps most impressive, there was no sign of having lost the understanding with Luis Suarez that had made the duo England's most dangerous strikeforce in the autumn.

As well taken as Suarez' second goal of the night was, the most impressive part of the move was Sturride as, five minutes after his introduction, he ran half the length of the pitch with the ball at his feet, jinked past a defender, and sent a disguised layoff to the Uruguayan. Fifteen minutes later Suarez looked to return the favour with a cross, and though Jack Butland was heroic in his effort to stop the initial attempt, it only made for a more impressive finish off the rebound.

His injury niggles have at times been a concern since arriving at Liverpool last January, but anyone who had forgotten just how much Sturridge adds to the attack got an instant reminder on Sunday, and the striker has now scored 23 goals and added six assists in 31 appearances since arriving from Chelsea for a bargain £12M fee.

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