Without Luis Suarez, Liverpool are expected to struggle for a top-four finish in the Premier League this campaign by many football followers, but on Sunday they coped well without the star striker.
Teenage winger Sterling put Liverpool in the lead midway through the first half after latching onto Jordan Henderson’s brilliant pass.
Nathaniel Clyne restored parity for Southampton 11 minutes into the second half, but Reds striker Sturridge scored the winning goal 11 minutes from time after being assisted by Sterling.
Although Liverpool emerged with the points, the Saints did make it difficult for them and went close in the latter stages of the contest - but their attempts on goal were thwarted by Simon Mignolet, who had to make no fewer than five saves in the match.
The goalkeeper was eventually crucial in Liverpool’s win as he tipped Morgan Schneiderlin’s shot onto the bar in the 88th minute and then watched Shane Long head the rebound wide from close range.
Former Liverpool and Manchester United striker Michael Owen watched the game and did not think that Brendan Rodgers’s side played particularly great football, making his opinion known on social networking site Twitter.
Liverpool not at their best but a big 3 points. Mignolet great save late on. The new SAS both on target.— michael owen (@themichaelowen) August 17, 2014
Indeed, it was not exactly the most convincing of wins for Liverpool, who were given a run for their money by a player exodus-affected Southampton side, but with Sterling and Sturridge both on target, there were signs that the Merseyside outfit can cope without Suarez after all.
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Suarez was Liverpool’s best player last season, but Sturridge’s performance and importance were hugely important as well.
Sterling enjoyed a breakthrough season in 2013-14 and now looks set to play an even bigger role in the first team.
Of course, this was just the first game of the season, but even then, the signs look positive for Liverpool when it comes to scoring goals and compensating for the absence of Suarez.