Three reasons why Daniel Sturridge can fire Liverpool to top four
Owen Fulda takes a look at three reasons why Daniel Sturridge can fire Liverpool to top four
He makes and takes his chances
Since Luis Suarez left Anfield last summer, Liverpool have been devoid of someone who can bring the best out of Daniel Sturridge. That is still arguably the case but fortunately for Brendan Rodgers, the 26-year-old is capable of producing moments of inspiration on his own. Interestingly Sturridge now has a better goals per game ratio than any other Reds striker in the Premier League era. His 37 strikes from just 57 games gives him a rate of 0.65 goals per game, slightly ahead of Fernando Torres on 0.64, Suarez 0.63 and Michael Owen 0.55. His two crisp finishes against Aston Villa on Saturday showed exactly what Reds supporters have been crying out for in his absence – someone who instinctively knows where the back of the net is. Although he heavily favours his left foot, he showed with his second goal – which he calmly slotted past Brad Guzan – that he is just as confident on his right. A fully fit and mobile Sturridge is certainly up there with Sergio Aguero among the most clinical forwards in the league, and his fitness is imperative to Liverpool regaining Champions League stature.
He brings the best out of his teammates
Previous to Saturday’s victory, the last time Liverpool scored three times was in a 3-2 win over Spurs back in February. Although he didn’t get on the scoresheet, Sturridge hit the post and was fouled by Danny Rose who conceded a penalty in the process. The basic equation is that without the England man in the team, Rodgers’s side simply struggle to threaten the opponent’s goal often enough, and even when they do, they struggle to score. According to the BBC, in the League Cup fixture against Carlisle (in which Sturridge didn’t play), Liverpool had an unbelievable 58 shots at goal, with only just over a quarter of those requiring a save from the goalkeeper and just a single one beating him. That’s success rate of of less than 2 per cent. Defenders know that Sturridge has the ability to beat them with his skill, movement off the ball and quickness of thought. He’s not bad in the air either. Opposing managers will be tempted to double up on him thus freeing up space for the likes of Adam Lallana and Danny Ings to assert themselves on the game more than they’ve been able to in his absence.
Rodgers can build around him
With Sturridge in the side Liverpool have a win rate of 62 per cent (won 44, drawn 15, lost 12). Along with captain Jordan Henderson and Martin Skrtel, Rodgers undoubtedly sees him as part of the spine of his team. Although it’s still early days in the Premier League, the Reds currently sit just two points off a Champions League place with a huge Merseyside Derby looming large this weekend. In Sturridge, Liverpool have a player who thrives on such occasions of immense pressure and magnitude. Rodgers must orchestrate his side in order to bring the best out of the former Chelsea man. Away sides have had huge success playing on the counter-attack so far this term, and considering the pace Liverpool are currently blessed with I expect them to come away from Goodison Park with all three points. It’s about time £29m signing Roberto Firmino opened his account for his new club, and what better place to do it than at your local rivals stadium. A win on Sunday will have confidence bubbling again at Anfield and a top four finish represents a realistic proposition for the first time in a while.