Can Ings and Sturridge Save Rodgers' Liverpool Career?
Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool is a far cry from what you would normally expect from the historic club. With the form of a relegation candidate, watching the Reds has become a bleak prospect more likely to disappoint than please. One of the few players who seems capable of changing this is Danny Ings. The 21 year old striker is providing a selection headache for manager Brendan Rodgers after coming on for the injured Christian Benteke at half-time. Ings scored a beautifully taken goal almost from the off. His composure and finishing had been praised during his time at Burnley and now it is clear why. It is difficult however, to envision Rodgers dropping either Christian Benteke or Daniel Sturridge for the youngster when all are fit and firing.
It is often said how managers love it when their players make it difficult to select the team as it represents a competitiveness and quality within the squad. This will really come to the fore in the months ahead as Benteke, Sturridge and Ings all compete for the two available striking berths Rodgers’ team. It would seem as if Ings has already bested Divock Origi who had been tipped to be more successful than the Englishman. Perhaps Ings’ knowledge of the Premier League has played to his advantage with this being Origi’s debut season in England’s top tier.
The question comes in though where big-man Christian Benteke is concerned. You would expect; having paid £32.5 million on the Belgian, that he would start without question. This is Rodgers’ chief dilemma. Does he pair Ings with Sturridge? Liverpool’s number 15 has just returned from injury after being absent from competitive football for almost six months and as such, it is no surprise that he has so far lacked that edge which has become expected of him. Sturridge was crucial to the title challenge which was surprisingly mounted in the 2013/2014 season. His 21 Premier League goals was a counterweight for the enigmatic Luis Suarez, with the pair becoming the two most feared forwards in England at the time. It is this record that makes it difficult to predict Brendan Rodgers excluding him from the starting line-up.
Liverpool have gone since the 2nd of May against QPR since they last scored multiple goals in a match. This means that the Reds have played 10 Premier League games since they last succeed to score more than one goal. In this period their goal to game ratio is 0.9/game. Failing to average a goal a game is consistent with the form of a team in line for relegation. Furthermore, in the same period they conceded 19 goals at a rate of 1.9/game. This includes the 6-1 drubbing at the Britannia and the abysmal 3-0 loss at home against West Ham. In line with this assessment, Liverpool are lying 13th on the league table, five points and goal above 18th placed Stoke City.
These figures make it clear how dire the situation on Merseyside really is and that a period of prosperity is desperately needed. Consistent goal-scoring is in order too, as it is well known that instead of defending well, Liverpool opt to outscore the opponents. It would do well for the side’s top four chances this season if Sturridge was to find form like he did when he embarked on his record-breaking run, wherein he notched a goal for eight successive games.
While Sturridge’s return has been a little rustyso far, it is still incredibly encouraging as his movement and creative talent was once more on display. While Benteke may be incredibly strong and have a great finish, it is Sturridge with his dynamic off-the-ball movement that is the more impressive of the two. The Englishman means much more to Liverpool than just goals which when fully fit he almost guarantees. His pace and perpetual movement stretches teams and creates space for his attacking team-mates to exploit.
Danny Ings may well be given his chance to pair up with Daniel Sturridge for a more permanent basis as Benteke is expected to be out for a few weeks. The two English forwards should link up well with both of them being on the pacey side of life as well as being pro-active when it comes to creating attacks. Something that Benteke has come in for criticism in recent weeks is his lack of contribution to build-up play when attacking. Surely this was expected when the Belgian was brought in to the club though? The way the 21 year old from Burnley took his goal against Norwich City, it is unlikely that he will shirk the responsibility should under fire manager Brendan Rodgers call on him. As is well known, Daniel Sturridge can deliver when he is in top shape and all he needs is a little bit more match fitness and to get his sharpness back after missing almost six months of competitive football. Perhaps Liverpool can look to their English duo to turn around their woeful goal return in recent months and in doing so, save Brendan Rodgers from the sack.
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