Perhaps it was somewhat surprising when Liverpool decided to splash out a whopping 12 million pounds on Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea in the January transfer window. Many eyebrows were raised when Brendan Rodgers decided to make the frontman his priority signing at Anfield but so far it has been justified.
Sturridge, 23, was never prolific during his time with Chelsea; scoring just 13 goals in 63 appearances for the Blues. However, maybe his lack of goals has something to do with the positions he played, with most of his games being on the wing rather than his preferred striking role. Sturridge came through the youth set up at both Aston Villa and Coventry City before moving onto Manchester City in 2003. There he continued his development and in the process played in two FA Youth Cup finals.
Eventually he was called up to the first team in 2007 and by the end of the season he had become the only ever player to score in the FA Youth Cup, FA Cup and Premier League in the same season. His form during his time in Manchester persuaded Chelsea to take the forward on a free transfer at the end of his City contract. However, due to him being under the age of 24, the transfer went to a tribunal, where Chelsea were ordered to pay an initial 3.5 million pounds with an additional £500k after each of 10, 20, 30 and 40 first-team competitive appearances. There would also be a further payment of 1 million pounds Sturridge made a full international appearance.
Many pundits believed that England international Sturridge was underutilised during his time with Chelsea. His constant plea to play upfront fell on deaf ears and was usually reverted back to his position in wide midfield. A large number of fans were in full support of Sturridge’s striking plea, with club record buy Fernando Torres being largely ineffective since his high-profile move from Liverpool. In time, Sturridge’s first team chances were becoming more and more limited, so much so that in the end, it was deemed suitable for both parties to part ways.
On the 2nd January 2013, Danny Sturridge completed his move to Liverpool and signed a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee believed to be around £12 million. And since scoring on his debut in the FA Cup against Mansfield Town, he has not looked back and has notched an impressive total of three goals in four games. Sturridge’s purple patch in terms of form has possibly come about due to the faith shown in him by new manager Brendan Rodgers. Rodgers has wasted no time in putting his new man into the team and alongside controversial Uruguayan Luis Suarez, a decision which has proven to be an excellent one thus far for the Merseyside club. It has even been noted that the partnership developing between the two front-man could potentially become as successful as the Michael Owen and Emile Heskey combination but with it being early days, club officials are playing down this statement.
Now, it may be a coincidence but since the arrival of Sturridge, it has seemingly brought out the best in the club’s other players. Players such as Jordan Henderson have suddenly hit a good run of form, outlined mostly after his plucky solo goal at the Emirates against Arsenal. Even Steven Gerrard is arguably getting back to his best domestically, with more assists and more goals coming about since the arrival of Sturridge from Chelsea.
Many ask why the partnership between Suarez and Sturridge has been largely effective so far. The first answer is due to the willingness to run and work for each other. The variation and swapping of positions is seen time and time again from the two, both on and off the ball, something which is extremely difficult to manage for any defending team. With many teams in the top flight adopting a man marking system it can even become more difficult to prevent goals with the chopping and changing between the two causing problems for clubs’ back line.
Another reason for successful play between the two is the fact that since Sturridge’s arrival to the team they have suddenly started to press high up the pitch. The two strikers have become the first line of defence and with the midfield and back line therefore having more time to get organised it has led to the prevention of goals conceded. However, Liverpool will hope that no injuries occur to either the new man or Luis Suarez with the only other recognised striker at the club being Italian Fabio Borini. And with Borini hardly setting the world alight since his transfer from AS Roma in the summer window, it is fair to say that he will play more of a sub role up to the conclusion of the season.
Liverpool will hope that Sturridge can rediscover the form that he showed when he was on loan to Bolton back in 2011. That loan spell saw the striker net a brilliant eight goals in just twelve appearances. If he continues to play in his favoured striking role it could prove a masterstroke of a decision, something which could lead Liverpool to a second successive year in the Europa League.