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Analysing Daniel Sturridge's woeful performance in Liverpool's defeat to Burnley

When any player sits on the bench on the opening day of the season, they will be itching to get on and prove that they’ve got what it takes. When that player sits and watches his teammates score four to beat Arsenal at the Emirates, he is bound to be frustrated. When one of those teammates picks up an injury in training which allows him the opportunity to start the next game, you’d think he’d produce the very best he could. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Daniel Sturridge.

Starting on the right of an attacking trio featuring Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino, Sturridge started slowly, as did his teammates, conceding the opening goal to a Sam Vokes strike after just 98 seconds. The problem was that the England striker never really got going. Isolated out wide, Sturridge looked disinterested and dropped far too deep to try and collect the ball, eventually meaning that when the ball did move forward, the former Chelsea man was nowhere to be seen.

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A look at Sturridge’s pass combinations speak volumes. Whilst often not the most useful of statistical data, a look at Sturridge’s figures yesterday show that his highest pass combination was from him to left-back James Milner six times. Then, behind five passes each to Henderson and Coutinho, were Lovren and Clyne on three occasions each. For a right sided forwarded to have 64% of his passes directed to defenders and Jordan Henderson in holding midfield shows a clear lack of penetration and is representative of Sturridge’s inability to get past Stephen Ward at left back, with his two take-ons both failed.

With a pass completion ratio of just 63% in the final third, he really failed to make an impact in possession. With no chances created either, Sturridge contributed nothing to the Liverpool attack. In stark contrast to Sadio Mane’s pace and penetration up against Nacho Monreal at the Emirates last weekend, Sturridge found himself coming up against Stephen Ward, who was making only his fourth Premier League appearance since December 2014, and failing to make an impact.

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Okay, so he didn’t do much to bring others into the game, but this is Daniel Sturridge. A greedy centre forward playing out of position, surely he was cutting inside and taking shots all the time? Well, no. he had four shots, all off target. It was no surprise therefore, when in the 65th minute, Divock Origi replaced Daniel Sturridge.

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Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino, who played centrally, created four chances and had a 90% pass completion rate in the final third. On the left, Philippe Coutinho created three chances and had an 84% pass completion rate in the final third. It is clear that whilst Liverpool lacked the cutting edge that is required if they are to challenge for the top four, Sturridge was the biggest underperformer.

You could argue that Sturridge never stood a chance. He has previously made it clear that he prefers to play centrally, with his reluctance to play outwide believed to be one of his motivations behind demanding a move away from Stamford Bridge to come to Anfield in the first place. That in itself is problematic. Klopp likes to have a fluid system with players interchanging and rotating in terms of position, and Sturridge will have to adapt to that as the likes of Origi and Firmino have.

What this means for the future remains to be seen, with it still unclear whether or not Sadio Mane will return from his shoulder injury next weekend for the trip to Tottenham. Sturridge may be given a repreive in the form of a rather unglamorous EFL Cup tie at Burton Albion, but it will take some turnaround if he is to convince Klopp that he deserves to start at White Hart Lane. With Origi, Danny Ings and Sadio Mane all also competing for the position, this game against Burnley was an opportunity that Sturridge could not afford to waste in his fight for first team football.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Federico Civerchia.

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