It’s a line that has been repeated ad nauseam; how can Liverpool possibly hope to replace the goals of Luis Suarez? The short answer is they don’t need to. If the attacking midfielders can pick up a few goals here and there and they can be more miserly in defence then their goal difference should remain around the same.
What Liverpool do have to be aware of, however, is not losing too many of the goals scored by last year’s second top scorer – Daniel Sturridge – through the system that they choose. There have been occasions already in pre-season, both against Olympiakos and Manchester City, where Sturridge has been isolated up front and had no influence on the game at all.
Of course, it is still pre-season and it is certainly not a fully fit first team that Liverpool are currently fielding but it will have been noted by Brendan Rodgers nevertheless. Rickie Lambert did not work as a partner for Sturridge against City as he dropped too deep to receive the ball and left Sturridge to fend for himself too often up top.
What Sturridge needs, what he will miss most of all other than the creativity of his former striking partner, are the runs Suarez made to drag defenders out of position, leaving gaps for the pacier Sturridge to run in behind.
Options for Southampton opener
If, as would seem the logical step, Sturridge is to become the focal point of this Liverpool attack, then he will need players around him who are willing to make those runs and so it would not be surprising to see him lined up with Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic with Philippe Coutinho in behind the front three come the opening fixture of the Premier League season against Southampton.
Clearly, Lambert remains a good option, but he does not seem the right one to play alongside Sturridge, at least not in the diamond formation that Liverpool employed with such success last term.