On Tuesday night Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge gave Reds boss Jurgen Klopp a reminder of his qualities as the England international scored a brace in a 2-1 EFL Cup fourth-round win over Tottenham. The Reds are now the favourites to lift the trophy at odds of 7/2.
Klopp described Sturridge’s display against Spurs as ‘brilliant’. However, it is not hard to envisage the England striker returning to the Reds bench at the weekend.
Not Klopp’s kind of player
Daniel Sturridge is a very good striker and will score goals in most teams. The 27-year-old has never lacked talent. However, there have been question marks over his mental attributes and his willingness to work for the team.
The former Chelsea striker is not a player who will run all day. He is not the sort of guy who will harry and chase defenders. It’s just not his game. There comes a problem for the striker under Klopp at Liverpool.
Sturridge has started only four of the Reds Premier League games this season. In fact, since Klopp took over at Anfield he has never really been favoured. Klopp has often played versatile Brazilian Roberto Firmino up front, as he will work hard for the team.
However, Sturridge will not. I bet Klopp wishes that Sturridge could produce the same sort of application as the Brazilian because then the German would have the near perfect striker. He is relatively clinical in front of goal, has decent football intelligence and pace in abundance.
A missing ingredient
Unfortunately for Liverpool and Sturridge, the striker does not seem able to adapt to Klopp’s high-pressing and high-intensity game. At 27-years-old Sturridge should be at his peak physical condition, but is no doubt wary of gaining any more injuries, as they have hampered his recent career.
Sturridge has the pace to cause chase down defenders. However, it may be in that aforementioned missing mental strength that may be stopping him being a Klopp player. Maybe he is just not willing to work hard enough to chase down defenders.
Maybe in his head, he believes that he is too talented to harry defenders. Something is missing and that missing ingredient is maybe the difference between him being a good striker and a world-class one.
If you compare Sturridge to some of his contemporaries, like Jamie Vardy, for instance, it is clear that Sturridge’s problems could be down to his mentality. Sturridge is naturally more talented than his Leicester counterpart, but Vardy works damn hard and does not give opposition defenders a minute’s peace.
Sturridge may be sharp, but it seems he is incapable of doing what is needed to be part of Klopp’s starting line-up on a regular basis.
May have to move on to be successful
In Liverpool’s current situation it is clear that Firmino is a better fit for the way that Jurgen Klopp wants to set up his team. The Brazilian’s presence up front means that the Reds front players can be very fluid and rotate.
This causes massive problems for opposition defenders, as they are unsure who to pick up. This tactic has been highly successful this season and at times last season. However, Sturridge leading the line does not give the team the same flexibility.
Sturridge was linked with a move away from Merseyside in the summer. The speculation was not surprising considering how Klopp likes to play. There will be no shortage of takers if Sturridge becomes available.
The likes of West Ham and Arsenal were linked with moves for the 27-year-old in the summer. Both could renew that interest in the striker in January. When fit he would make a very good addition to most Premier League teams and will score goals in the English top-flight.
However, the buying team must be willing to sacrifice a bit of work-rate in order to sign a talented but slightly highly strung predator.
It seems simple at the moment. Daniel Sturridge is fighting a losing battle to be a first team starter at Anfield. It would be highly surprising if Sturridge evolved his game in a way that Jurgen Klopp would feel fit to include him as the team’s main centre-forward on a regular basis in the near future.
Should Daniel Sturridge be starting for Liverpool?