Daniel Sturridge made an instant return to the Liverpool team last weekend, scoring within in 12 minutes of coming on as a second half substitute as he helped seal victory over West Ham. The England hit-man had missed pretty much five months of action through several injuries that first occurred while on international duty back in early September, making his return a welcome one for Reds fans.
To say Liverpool have missed his goals would be an understatement. The Reds are currently seventh, which is stark contrast from last season where the club battled for the title right until the last day of the campaign. Sturridge and Luis Suarez netted 52 goals together last season, a feat that was always going to be almost impossible to replace. Liverpool have played well at times, especially since changing formation to 3-4-3 where they have only lost once in the league, a 3-0 defeat to Man Utd at Old Trafford back in December, but have still be lacking firepower.
Liverpool might be seven Premier League matches unbeaten, but both the League Cup semi-final ties and a couple of draws that should have been converted into wins, reveal how much Sturridge has been missed. Raheem Sterling has been taking up the position of ‘false nine’ replacing the need to use a genuine centre forward. Although he has managed nine goals in all competitions this season, there have been times, especially in the ties against Chelsea, where you would imagine someone like Sturridge would have taken the chances that were wasted. Liverpool haven’t been playing with an out-and-out centre forward for a couple of months but the need for one is severe, especially if they want to get back into the top four again.
Daniel Sturridge has been a magnificent since signing for Liverpool from Chelsea in January 2013. He scored ten in 14 in the rest of that season, before adding 21 goals in their title chasing campaign last term. At 25, Sturridge had been playing regular football for Liverpool for the first time in his career before his injury, but with him back in the side the club can challenge all the way for those Champions League spots.
Only four points off, Liverpool have been playing some excellent football in recent weeks which has been reminiscent of last season’s displays. Now Sturridge is back, this can free Raheem Sterling to give him more freedom of playing in behind the striker which also gives him a better chance to be creative. Sturridge’s natural finishing and his admitted love for goalscoring is a worrying combination for Liverpool’s Champions League challenging rivals. As he showed last season, the England striker is one of the best centre-forwards in the Premier League with a fantastic scoring record for Liverpool in the league – 33 goals in 47 appearances.
Liverpool have some tricky matches coming up soon, none more bigger than a trip to rivals Everton in the Merseyside Derby on Saturday this evening. With the FA Cup a real possibility of silverware, a Europa League campaign to compete in and a top four finish up for grabs, Daniel Sturridge’s return could not have come at a better time for Liverpool.