With only two goals against Sunderland on Wednesday, Liverpool ended the night rather shy of the nearly 3.5 goals per game they had been averaging since the new year. With Daniel Sturridge scoring the second, though, Liverpool's deadly attack did hit a milestone as the striker joined Luis Suarez in reaching the 20-goal mark this season. His previous high was 11.
The personal milestone also means that for first time in fifty years, Liverpool now have two players who have scored at least 20 goals in the same season. Sturridge admits it's a special personal achievement to make it to the 20-goal mark, but the former Chelsea player insists that the only thing that really matters is that Liverpool got the result they needed against Sunderland.
"It's special but the success of the team is more important to me," Sturridge told the Liverpool Echo following the match. "It was great to get the three points—that's the most important thing at this stage of the season. We just need to continue working hard as a team and keep getting the job done. We're all trying our best to do our jobs for the team."
That job ended up harder than many had expected, with Sunderland giving Liverpool a tougher time of it at home than Manchester United or Southampton had on the road in their last two games. Much of that was down to Sunderland's approach, as for much of the match their only real concern was frustrating Liverpool's attacking duo.
"It wasn't easy," continued Sturridge. "It never is when a team defends so deep and puts so many bodies behind the ball. But in the first half we were patient and we worked hard to break them down. Our back four defended really well. They were fantastic. You have to grind results out sometimes. You have to do the dirty things to get the result you want and we got there in the end."
It may meant a game with far fewer pyrotechnics than fans have gotten used to, but along the way it showed a side capable of eking out a result against an opponent largely unconcerned with scoring so long as they can limit Liverpool's chances. The narrow nature of victory also reinforced the need to stay focused on the next match rather than looking ahead and dreaming.
"I don't get too excited," he said. "It's important to take each game as it comes. There are seven games to go and they will all be difficult. They will all be different in their own way. We can't worry about the opposition. We just need to worry about ourselves and try to play our football as best as we can."