In his first start for Jurgen Klopp in the Capital One Cup, Sturridge receives the ball, shoots and scores. The England striker would score again just five minutes later, having beaten the offside trap.
It was just half an hour on the clock but in such a short time, Sturridge proved why he is one of the best strikers in Europe.
It’s quite clear that Liverpool have had problems in almost every department since they last won the league title, all the way back in 1990. They have had problems in defense, problems in the middle of the park — the fans have seen some very flimsy goalkeepers too.
However, there is one area where Liverpool have managed to consistently keep quality players — up front. From Robbie “God” Fowler to Luis Suarez, the club have had some high quality players leading their attack over the past two decades. Daniel Sturridge may not be as big a name as the likes of Fernando Torres or Michael Owen yet, but all signs point towards the fact that he has the potential to be as big.
After all, Sturridge averages 0.62 goals per league game since he made his debut in 2013. For any striker, that ratio is pretty brilliant. He also needs only six goals in his next 11 games to become the fastest Liverpool player to reach 50 goals for Liverpool — these stats give one an overview as to how good the forward really is.
However, there is one “slight” problem — Daniel Sturridge cannot stay fit if his mother’s life depended on it. It’s so bad that it’s become a running joke, similar to Abou Diaby’s fortunes at Arsenal.
Since making his debut in January 2013, the English striker has missed over half of the games that the club has played. Sturridge has managed to play only a thousand minutes of football in the past one and a half seasons — he has spent more time in the hospital bed than he has in front of the Kop at Anfield.
Despite averaging 30 appearances a season in his professional career, Sturridge has had only one fully fit season at the very top level with a supposed “top team”. This was of course, the season he and Luis Suarez broke the record of most goals for a duo in a 38 game league season — a season where he assisted eight, and scored 25 goals.
That’s how good Daniel Sturridge is.
Liverpool signed Christian Benteke and Danny Ings in the summer for nearly £40 million combined, but the duo haven’t managed to make any impact on the Anfield faithful.
Despite being Liverpool’s highest goal scorer so far this season, Benteke has flopped in most matches, with the Kop questioning his ability to adapt and fit into Klopp’s system. Ings, meanwhile, got sidelined with an ACL injury shortly after scoring his second goal for his new club. Suffice to say, the Kop does not want its Champions League hopes to rest solely on the shoulders of 19-year-old Divock Origi, or Benteke who has flattered to deceive so far.
Perhaps, that is why Sturridge is so important. A player who has four goals this season in a mere 280 minutes of play, a player who can score despite two defenders marking him, is a player who is ideal to lead Liverpool’s attack in the league, and otherwise.
Liverpool failed to score against Watford, they failed to win against West Bromwich Albion, and they barely won against Swansea. All of those were games where Sturridge was missing. That is why they need him. He takes to football (after injury) like a fish to water, adapting and thriving easily.
His case is actually similar to Robin van Persie’s at Arsenal. Van Persie — despite his injury troubles — went on to become a world class striker in the 2011/2012 season. Before that, there were lingering doubts as to whether the Gunners should persist with the Dutchman since he was always crocked but it paid off in the end.
There can be no doubt, that a fit Daniel Sturridge — still only 26-years-old — is the best striker in the league, barring only a fit Sergio Aguero. He may leave the fans frustrated with his injuries. He may even leave some fuming, in a state of agitation.
But it’s all a part and parcel of the enigma that is Daniel Sturridge. Liverpool need to be patient — they’d be foolish not to. After all, the night is darkest right before the dawn.