£12million Sturridge is still trying to regain full match fitness after playing in his first game since November on his goalscoring Reds debut at Mansfield last weekend.
Andre Wisdom (right) is given big responsibility at right-back, whilst Raheem Sterling will support Suarez with Downing, in front of a Lucas, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen midfield three.
Fabio Borini makes a welcome return to the subs bench after injury. The recently impressive Jordan Henderson also has to settle for a place on the bench.
For United, they’re missing in-form Johnny Evans and forward Wayne Rooney.
Liverpool: Reina, Wisdom, Agger, Skrtel, Johnson; Lucas, Gerrard, Allen; Downing, Sterling, Suarez.
Subs: Jones, Carragher, Henderson, Sturridge, Borini, Shelvey, Robinson.
Mancs: De Gea, Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Cleverley, Carrick, Kagawa, Young; Welbeck, Van Persie.
Subs: Amos, Jones, Valencia, Anderson, Giggs, Smalling, Hernandez.
Referee: Howard Webb