One of the stories of this season’s Premier League campaign is the emergence of Daniel Sturridge as a world class forward. Sturridge has revelled under Brendan Rodgers, forming a formidable partnership with Luis Suarez. Having failed to impress for the most during spells with Man City and Chelsea, many felt Rodgers took a gamble on Sturridge, but the Englishman’s goal tally suggests otherwise.
Sturridge joined City as a youth player and climbed through the ranks to establish himself as a first team player in 2006. While always dangerous from the flanks with his pace and power, Sturridge was erratic in front of goal and only managed 5 in 21 appearances for City. After the club maid big money signings, Sturridge found himself frozen out of the team for some spells and signed for Chelsea in 2009 when his contract with City had expired. At Chelsea, his goal scoring form was equally as modest, striking 13 goals in 63 appearances. He was deployed mainly on the wings as part of a three pronged attack alongside Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou. Having again failed to impress, Sturridge was sent to Bolton on loan in the middle of the 2011 season. There he impressed tremendously, scoring 8 times in 12 matches and helping the struggling club to escape relegation. Sturridge was mainly deployed up front on his own, with the player himself stating that was his preferred position. He asserted that he wished to return to Chelsea and become the club’s number one forward, but it was not to be as he was sold to Liverpool that summer.
Much of Sturridge’s new found success is in fact due to his position. Sturridge now revels in his centre forward role, and thrives off his partnership with Suarez. He looks to combine and interchange positions, which is limited while playing on the wing. Through the middle, Sturridge can use his pace to run in behind teams and exploit the gaps, picking up the ball in key areas and drawing in defences. This has been evident for Liverpool, with the forward exploring his most prolific season yet. Sturridge became Liverpool’s only player in the Premier League era to have scored a goal in 7 consecutive games after netting against Fulham at Craven Cottage in the week. City and Chelsea will be aggrieved by Sturridge’s turn around, as he is one of the reasons that Liverpool are now a direct challenger for the title.