Liverpool have had a decent start to the 2017/18 season, especially in the attacking third and before they were hammered 5-0 by Manchester City, they sat second in the Premier League. They went into the international break on the back of a resounding 4-0 win over Arsenal. In that fixture, all four of their goals were scored by attackers: three of them by their three star men and the fourth by Daniel Sturridge, a player who has struggled for game time in the last few seasons.
While Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are in top form, it’s hard to find a position for another attacker, especially with Phillipe Coutinho coming back into the fold after a failed attempt to force a move to Barcelona. But when he’s at the top of his game, there aren’t many better strikers in the top flight than Daniel Sturridge and he should be knocking at Jürgen Klopp’s door after he scored within four minutes of coming off the bench against the Gunners.
Pace and Power
One of the best attributes of Sturridge’s game is his blistering pace and at full speed, the English striker is a nightmare for defenders to handle. His timing and positioning of runs is fantastic and with the quality of the passing of players behind him, they should have no problems finding his brilliant runs. His power compliments his pace perfectly and he can definitely compete shoulder to shoulder with some of the division’s strongest defenders, something that fast strikers usually find very difficult. In many ways, he is seen as a complete centre forward but it is his endless list of injuries that have restricted him from putting together a few consistent seasons.
Arguably, his best campaign was played alongside Luis Suarez in the 2013/14 season where they formed a partnership known as SAS as Liverpool came so close yet so far from the Premier League title. Sturridge managed 21 goals, making him the second top goal scorer, while his partner-in-crime was the top flight’s leading scorer with 31. Under Brendan Rodgers‘ guidance, he was one of the best strikers in Europe but more injuries stopped the great form Sturridge had forged next to his Uruguayan teammate.
All his best attributes taken into account, Daniel Sturridge can operate very efficiently on his own up top. Liverpool’s current first choice number nine, Roberto Firmino, has struggled massively when the Reds have relied on him to lead the line alone due to his lack of experience as a striker.
As we saw in the 5-0 thrashing of the Reds by Manchester City, when the Brazilian was asked to feed off scraps on his own up front after Sadio Mane’s dismissal, he failed to do that and looked nothing more than a passenger in the second-half. It was a tough situation for Firmino but it has to be said that surely Sturridge would have made more of a go of it and possibly created a few openings for himself and his teammates.
If Jurgen Klopp finds his side in the same dire scenario later on in the season, he should consider deploying the Englishman as a lone striker instead of selecting a makeshift centre forward. While the 28-year-old may not have performed to his best in the last couple of seasons, he should still be somewhere in the back of Klopp’s mind in terms of starting games this campaign.
A good run of matches could see him return to top form, especially with the passing ability of Firmino, Salah, Mane, Lallana and Henderson throughout the rest of the team. It is a shame to see a good English talent like Sturridge wasted for the time being at Anfield, he should definitely be starting more games. Mane is expected to receive a three-match ban for his red card against Man City which may open up an attacking vacancy for the former Chelsea forward: the perfect opportunity for him to get back to scoring goals.