Phillips hails 'special' Reds pairing

Former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips has heaped praise on Liverpool's "special" strike partnership of Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez.

Last Updated: 15/02/14 at 07:53 Post Comment

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge: Partnership hailed by Kevin Phillips

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge: Partnership hailed by Kevin Phillips

Strike partnerships are few and far between these days, with 4-2-3-1 replacing 4-4-2 as the favoured formation for many teams in recent years, but one team persisting with two out-and-out forwards this season has been Liverpool, who have catapulted themselves into Premier League title contention.

Phillips, once half of a prolific strike pairing himself alongside Niall Quinn at Sunderland, has thoroughly enjoyed watching Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez combine for Brendan Rodgers' side this season, hailing their partnership as 'special'.

He wrote in his blog for SkySports.com: "Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez have caused a storm with their partnership up front for Liverpool this season - partly because what they're doing is so rare in the modern game.

"There are very few strike pairings operating in football these days. The recent trend of playing one forward up top with quick players coming in from out wide to support has made frontline double acts scarce.

"Bucking the trend, Danny Ings and Sam Vokes are combining well for Burnley in the Championship and scoring a lot of goals, while Suarez and Sturridge are having great success in the top flight and have fired Liverpool into the top four with their goals and assists.

"In fairness, the Anfield pair have added a modern twist to their play - often, when Liverpool don't have the ball, one of them will drop back into the hole.

"But when they are both up on the centre-backs, pulling the defenders all over the place, it is great to see.

"You just don't see many partnerships clicking like that these days, although 10-15 years ago it was far more common.

Quinn and Phillips: A clinical frontline pair for Sunderland

"I had great success playing alongside Niall Quinn at Sunderland. Our 'little and large' partnership, as people called it, produced plenty of goals and some really fond memories.

"We won the First Division title, finished seventh twice in the Premier League and, with the help of Niall's assists, I won the Golden Boot after scoring 30 goals in the 1999-2000 campaign.

"However, it surprises a lot of people, when they ask why we were so successful together, when I say we never once worked on our partnership on the training pitch.

"When I arrived at Sunderland Niall wasn't 100 per cent fit, so, when he was back up to speed, we were just thrown together to see what would happen - and we gelled instantly.

"Niall knew what I was going to do and I read what he was going to do. Call it telepathy or whatever you like, we just clicked.

"At that time there was a great team spirit at Sunderland. We all socialised together at weekends and when you're friends off the field it makes it a lot easier to play together on it."

Special

It had been suggested that Sturridge and Suarez would struggle to form an effective partnership due to their selfishness - a trait of many top strikers - but Phillips does not believe it will ever become a problem for the Reds duo.

He said: "We saw Sturridge and Suarez have strong words with each other recently when Sturridge opted to shoot rather than pass against Everton.

"They're both so hungry to score goals and that is going to happen from time to time, but as long as it doesn't go too far, it's got the makings of a really successful partnership.

"Myself and Niall, on the other hand, never had any problems likes that. Of course Niall scored goals and he liked to score goals but at that stage of his career he was happy to be setting them up.

"If they came his way he'd take them but I think he saw in me a young player wanting to make a name for himself and he was happy to help me find the net.

"He was at a stage in his career - similar to where I am now - where as long as the team was winning and he was playing his part in making that happen, he was happy.

"Unfortunately, I think the days of that 'little and large' combination are over.

"I would love to see two strikers up front, buzzing around, causing problems for the defence at more grounds but times have changed, formations have changed and sometimes it's not the right way to play against another team.

"You've got to have the right kind of players for a double act like that to work and unfortunately those players cost a lot of money.

"That's why what Liverpool have at the moment is so special."

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