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Sturridge and Coutinho show Liverpool can survive sans Suarez
How does a team respond to their best player being suspended for the rest of the season? Well, they go out and win 6-0 away from home, of course.
The pleasing thing for the Reds is that the chief architects were precisely the players who needed to step up and fill the void, with Daniel Sturridge leading the line superbly and Philippe Coutinho wreaking all kinds of havoc across the midfield.
Coutinho was especially impressive when Liverpool took the game away from Newcastle in the first half, picking out every imaginable hole in the Toon's overrun defence. Meanwhile, Sturridge continued to demonstrate his ability as a genuine No 9, tormenting his markers with a combination of clever hold-up play, quick feet and lethal runs in behind.
Perhaps the most heartening thing from Brendan Rodgers' point of view is how the Englishman and the Brazilian combined to create chances. The exchange that saw Jordan Henderson score Liverpool's second was of the absolute highest class, while another delightful touch from Coutinho allowed Sturridge to open his account after half-time.
And it wasn't just those two who ran amok. Henderson was duly rewarded for his hard running with a brace, Steven Gerrard dictated terms from the middle, and Daniel Agger — who opened the scoring inside three minutes — seemed to charge forward whenever he liked. Above all, it was a consummate team display.
The other side of the story is that Newcastle were a complete shambles. Aside from a five-minute spell after the break where they showed some intent, Alan Pardew's men were toothless in every department. It was the sort of performance that could cost a man his job and a club their place in the Premier League.
Thus, next weekend's derby date with Everton may provide a more accurate portrait of how Liverpool stand without their Uruguayan superstar. And if they play even half as well as they did at St James' Park, questions will arise as to just how vital Suarez is to Rodgers' plans.
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