Anfield hasn't been the cheeriest of places in recent years. Liverpool haven't finished better than sixth in the Premier League -- including 7th last season -- since their 2008-09 runners-up finish behind Manchester United, when Liverpool finished with 86 pts., their most ever in the Premier League.
Things have changed thus far this season, however, thanks in large part to the rise of Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool are second as December approaches, level on points with Chelsea and four behind leaders Arsenal. Strikers Luis Suarez and Sturridge are the most lethal strike force in the Premier League with nine goals apiece, one behind Manchester City's Sergio Aguero for the league lead.
Sturridge is one of the league's breakout players of the season thus far, complementing Suarez spectacularly to keep Liverpool in the thick of things at the crowded top of the table. His January 2013 move to Liverpool is finally paying big dividends, and Suarez told NBC's Arlo White in the video above that much of it is due to his ability to play with some freedom in a starting role.
"I feel more at home now," Sturridge said. "I feel like I can go out on the football field and express myself. And in the past I've had -- you get an opportunity for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, whatever it may be, and you have one start out of 10 games or something like that and it's very difficult to kind of express yourself because you feel like in that one moment or that one game of 15 minutes that you've got to show everybody what you can do."
Sturridge's confidence has been on full display this season, including this wonderful chip against West Brom on Oct. 26:
Though primarily a starter, Sturridge came off the bench Saturday in the 79th minute and scored 10 minutes later to earn Liverpool a 3-3 draw with Everton in a wild Merseyside Derby.
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The big question is whether or not the form of Sturridge and Suarez can continue throughout the season. The pair's ability to share the spotlight will largely dictate where Liverpool finish, but Sturridge says he has no worries about he and Suarez getting along.
"There's no egos involved at all, with anybody in the club. It's Liverpool, and that is what it's all about."