Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have exceeded the expectations of many through the impressive start they have made to the season.
Currently residing at the summit of English football they also top the charts for goals scored, shots on target and chances created.
This is a team characterised by an indomitable collective spirit, jettisoning its past reliance on star names. Victory away to Palace most indicative of this; coming from behind to win 4-2, with goals spread between four scorers.
Roberto Firmino’s rise to prominence has been synonymous with Liverpool’s innovative style and upturn in form; counter pressing, running between the lines and most importantly – creating and scoring goals. A rise which has been to the detriment of Daniel Sturridge.
Absent from Jurgen Klopp’s first choice XI and without a league goal to his name this season, Daniel Sturridge finds himself at an impasse in his Anfield career.
Games against Burnley, Chelsea and Manchester United have seen Sturridge struggle to adapt to the fluid style of play adopted by Liverpool, often looking like a fish out of water.
His inability to lead the press and close defenders rapidly a la Roberto Firmino has led notable ex players to question his future under Jurgen Klopp, with some going as far as branding him lazy.
This represents a departure from a narrative dominated by absence through injury; one where Liverpool were abhorrently guilty of an over reliance and over indulgence of Daniel Sturridge.
The incessant cycle of injury – comeback – injury debilitated both player and club and arguably contributed to the dismissal of Brendan Rodgers.
Liverpool no longer rely solely on the striker to win games. They now have options all over the pitch; a transition which the manager must take untold credit for.
Amidst the haste to write off the English man, one thing seems to have been forgotten – the undoubted quality which he possesses.
Sturridge arguably remains England’s most talented striker and despite a chequered appearance record, he has scored 43 league goals from 76 games for Liverpool.
A large proportion of his goals have come when he has had a foil – 21 alone emanating from the prolific partnership with Luis Suarez in 13/14.
It is no coincidence that the four goals scored in the League Cup have come as a result of partnering Divock Origi in a 4-4-2 formation. A tactic which may well be introduced by Klopp when fixtures are congested and when Roberto Firmino cannot be expected to clock in excess of 11 kilometres per game.
Much like the fish judged for its ability to climb trees; Sturridge’s genius lies elsewhere.
You only have to go back as far as last season’s Europa League final to see what he offers Liverpool beyond a high energy pressing game.
He is capable of moments of magic, creating the spectacular out of nothing. Pundits and fans alike should appreciate the Reds’ number 15 for what he can do rather than what he cannot.
Don’t go writing Daniel Sturridge off just yet.
Eoin Deeney, Pundit Arena
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