2-0, 3-5, 2-2, 4-0, 1-1, 5-1, 2-3, 4-3, 0-3, 0-3, 3-6, 2-0, 4-0, 1-2, 3-2 and 2-3. No matter who they were, Liverpool came, saw and conquered in the most convincing and dramatic of fashion. Messrs Suarez, Sturridge, Sterling and Gerrard stood up to be counted for during a 16 game unbeaten streak, which included an incredible 11 game winning steak. Sturridge in particular was in the form of his life, enjoying an eight game scoring streak only equaled by Ruud van Nistelrooy in the Premier League.
But to bring up that run means to bring up what happened after: the 2-0 loss to Chelsea. Most pundits attribute this to be where Liverpool lost the title, I digress, they were always going to lose to Chelsea. The very beginning of this 16 game streak would have told you that. Dominating under little pressure, a Toure cock-up gifted West Brom an equalizer. If they couldn't even manage to see out a game involving little pressure, how could they be champions?
The West Brom game was indeed symbolic and a heed of warning for Brendan Rodgers: should Suarez and Sturridge go missing for large periods of a game or season, Liverpool will struggle to cover their lackadaisical defence.
Fast forward 11 months and talk of Liverpool winning the Premier League is simply laughable. This season the Reds have played 16, won 6, drawn 3 and lost 7. The last 16 games of last season read as: Played 16, won 13, drawn 2 and lost 1.
What happened? Suarez left and Sturridge is perpetually injured. Can two players make a team? No. But they can have a huge influence, especially when they control one area of the pitch (forward line). In Liverpool's case, they were the lungs that breathed a new lease of life. Without them they look leggy, lost and have run out of legs in the middle of wilderness.
Brendan Rodgers referred to Philippe Coutinho as the brains of the team in pre-season. But what use is the brain when the other organs aren't responding? The 3-0 loss to Manchester United is the perfect example. Liverpool created chance after chance but spurned them, only for United to run down the other end and expose their weak defence. Much has been made of De Gea's match winning saves, truth be told Sterling and Balotelli made it easy for him. Had Sturridge and Suarez played, it could have been anything from 3-3 to 3-6 in Liverpool's favour. However, they aren't available and it shows. In their hour of need, no longer can Liverpool call on the SAS; instead, a green 20 year old, an unreliable 24 year old, and a worn out captain of sinking ship do.