Throughout their history, there have been a number of legendary strikers for Liverpool FC, the most famous trios of players included of which would be Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling and Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
These two trios took the Premier League by storm and even claimed fame of becoming some of the best front three’s in world football, in their respective times. This has led to many different comparisons between the two forward lines and for good reason.
Throughout this blog post, we are going to be weighing up the statistics for both front threes as individuals and as a collective during their time playing together.
When comparing these two forward trios, there is no doubt that head-to-head stats must be considered, while Mane Salah and Firmino (MSF) played together for a much longer period of time, there is still a strong case to be made for Suarez Sturridge and Sterling (SSS).
When it comes to goals, the comparison can only really be made when looking at each of their best seasons, since overall, Mane, Salah and Firmino have a combined 338 goals while playing together for a significantly longer period of time, with Salah still playing for the reds and racking up an even higher tally on his own.
In the 2013/14 season, the SSS partnership scored a combined 61 goals in the league alone which was an incredible feat for the season making them one of the most prolific attacking sides in world football.
In the 2017/18 season, the most prolific for Mane Salah and Firmino, they managed to score 57 goals in the Premier League, with Mohamed Salah breaking the record for most goals scored in a single, 38-game season with 32 until Erling Haaland broke this in 2023.
In their best seasons individually, Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling managed to score 4 more goals overall than their later counterparts, but what about their assists?
As with their goal-scoring ability, Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling notched an impressive number of assists in the 2013/14 season amassing a total of 24 assists between them overall, this was equal to the tally Mane Salah and Firmino totalled in the 2017/18.
However, this was not the best season for MSF as they managed to surpass this total, achieving 25 assists in the Premier League-winning 2019/20 campaign.
This is a section that we believe is comfortably won by the latter trio as they managed to win everything that they possibly could with one another whereas Suarez, Sturridge and Sterling all had to part ways to find their silverware successes.
At Liverpool, SSS didn’t really manage to win anything of value during their time in Merseyside, getting really unlucky in the 2013/14 season when Luis Suarez was at his brilliant best in the eyes of most.
On the other hand, Mane, Salah And Firmino managed to win one Premier League trophy in 2020, the Champions League in 2019, the FA Cup in 2022, the Carabao Cup in 2022, the Community Shield in 2022, the Club World Cup in 2019 and the Super Cup in 2019.
Now to compare these players on an individual level, how is the best way to do this? Many would argue that you should simply pit one player against another based on the position that they played, for example, a winger should be compared to a winger etc.
However, for this review, we believe that it would be best to compare the players who were most similar to each other in terms of ability since these two groups of players did not play in the same system or formation.
When comparing their most successful seasons in the Premier League, Mohamed Salah pips Luis Suarez in goals by just one having played 36 games scoring 32 goals compared to Suarez’s 31 goals in 33 games.
When looking at the goal-per-game ratio, Suarez does better in this field as he managed to score 31 goals while having a 5-game ban at the start of the season, a feat which makes many believe that this was the greatest individual season in the history of the Premier League.
In terms of assists, Suarez beats Salah here too, notching an impressive 12 assists on top of his goal tally compared to Salah’s 10 in 17/18. For the keen-eyed of you, that means a total of 43 goal contributions in 33 games in the league for Suarez and 42 contributions in 36 for Salah.
In the case of Sadio Mane and Daniel Sturridge, we arrive at a similar impasse to the previous comparison as one leads in goals and the other leads in assists. For this comparison, we will be considering Sadio Mane’s 2018/19 Golden Boot-winning season and Sturridge’s amazing 13/14 campaign.
In 2013/14, Daniel Sturridge managed to score 21 goals in his 29 appearances for the Reds in the Premier League, an impressive number even considering his teammate’s incredible tally of 31.
Throughout the 2018/19 season, Mane tied for the Golden Boot with his teammate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal forward Pierre Emerick Aubameyang with 22 goals in 36 appearances, outscoring Sturridge by one goal while also winning the Champions League trophy.
Once again, when looking at the goals-per-game ratio, Sturridge comes out on top as he played significantly fewer games to only score one less goal than Mane overall. Sturridge also has Mane beat on assists as he managed to total 7 throughout the campaign compared to Mane’s one.
Despite not being the main goalscorers for their teams, Firmino in 2017/18 and Sterling in 2013/14 (judging from his Liverpool career) were incredibly valuable in the systems that they were deployed in.
In Firmino’s best season, he managed an impressive 15 goals and 7 assists in 37 games for the Reds in the Premier League showing prolific goalscoring form while also being deployed as a false 9.
Sterling, during the 13/14 campaign, amassed a total of 9 goals and 5 assists across 33 games in the league. This would go on to be his breakout season in the Premier League.
Overall, this appears to be a much more one-sided battle in favour of Firmino, however, it is important to note the context of Sterling’s first full season in the league at just 19 years old.