This season seemed to be the perfect opportunity for Daniel Sturridge. Praised by Jurgen Klopp for his fitness and form in pre-season, it looked like Daniel Sturridge could return to the Liverpool front-line and be a real force once again.
Unfortunately, a hamstring strain in Liverpool’s pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich as he chipped the ball into the net, kept him out of the opening week of the campaign. Now, he is back in the frame for Liverpool and was given a surprise start at Anfield for the first home game of the season against Crystal Palace.
Sturridge started ahead of his competitors like Divock Origi, Dominic Solanke and Danny Ings in the central forward role as Roberto Firmino was rested, but in truth he was disappointing and failed to justify his place in the side before being hauled off just after the hour mark as his fitness levels dropped.
With 33 touches, only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet made fewer. Only two of the starting eleven possessed a lower pass completion ratio than the England international too, and when he did have chances come his way, he failed to capitalise.
Sturridge registered two shots, both off target, and really failed to test Wayne Hennessey in the Crystal Palace goal. Liverpool’s service was not the best, but that still represents a poor return from a player with as much quality as the former Chelsea and Manchester City man.
What did not help him is that a lot of the chances Liverpool created came from the wings, with Andrew Robertson at left-back creating more chances than any other player. That did not help Sturridge, who is not known for his aerial ability and he failed to win a single aerial duel.
However, there were some positives. Sturridge’s work rate was clear for all to see, as has not always been the case, and he showed signs that he is adapting to life under Jurgen Klopp. Sturridge was prepared to drop deep or drift wide, switching positions with his fellow forwards.
That may give him hope that he can revive his Liverpool career. He will have to perform much better than he did on Saturday on his next opportunity, but it is certain that he will get another chance.
One to Watch: Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold oozes confidence vs West Ham
The 19-year-old picked up exactly where he left off last season.
He simply picked up from where he left season, oozing confidence as he patrolled the right side – camping himself in West Ham’s territory as Liverpool dominated the match.
The Englishman’s exceptional passing ability was the main feature of his performance.
He touched the ball 99 times and completed 58 of his 69 passes, with one delightful line-breaking pass standing out.
This ball, played through to Naby Keita as Liverpool broke forward in the build-up to their first goal, highlighted how dangerous Alexander-Arnold’s passing range when he is given time to raise his eyes and play diagonal balls through midfield.
This diagonal pass split West Ham’s entire midfield open, sending Keita on a burst that culminated in Salah putting the Reds 1-0 ahead.
It was symbolic of the mentality Klopp instils in his players, making them feel confident taking risks to set attacks in motion.
In this instance, the 19-year-old could easily have recycled the ball to a centre-back, but his team were rewarded for his courage in possession.
Defensively, he was also quite active, completing four of his five tackles and making a solitary interception.
Again, having West Ham camped in their own half suited Alexander-Arnold as he was able to press up the pitch and win the ball early in typical Liverpool fashion.
He continues to prove why he is so important to this Liverpool team, and highlights why Nathaniel Clyne cannot get close to first-team football.
Liverpool round-up: Klopp’s West Ham reaction; Klavan bid rejected; Lovren latest
Liverpool opened their Premier League campaign with a record equaling win over West Ham United thanks to goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane twice and Daniel Sturridge. The victory took the team straight to the top of the table with one game played and 37 more to go.
“A very good start, for sure. Yes, it’s a start – perfect as well because we won the game. For us it was not perfect, but really good. West Ham will play for sure a good season, but they are not then the Uniteds, Citys and all that stuff. That’s how it is, they know that and we know that and we have to be ready week in, week out for all the different challenges. Expectation – ours is the highest, but that changes nothing.”
The Reds were dominant up against Mauricio Pellegrini’s Hammers, who were never at the races. Having taken a two goal lead before half-time, Mane added a second before Sturridge scored with his first touch despite coming on as a late substitute.
Newcastle wanted Klavan
News has emerged that the Reds turned down a deadline day bid from Newcastle United for Estonian defender Ragnar Klavan. The report comes from The Chronicle, who say that former Anfield boss Rafa Benitez was keen on the central defender as a cheap option to strengthen his squad.
However, Jurgen Klpop decided that the team could not do without the 32-year-old, who is currently unavailable for selection due to an injury problem. That is despite the fact that his contract is set to expire in 2019, though Klopp has previously said he would like to retain his services.
Lovren set for weeks out
Dejan Lovren returned from the World Cup suffering from a stomach problem and remains sidelined by the issue, as Jurgen Klopp has now confirmed. The German revealed that the Croatian was already struggling towards the end of the season but played through the pain expecting that it would clear up when he had time off after the summer break.
“I am pretty sure it will settle in the next one, two or three weeks. In that time he can probably for sure train already, but not the full programme, so that will then take time. In the end, it is serious but not that serious, so it’s not that we need to be afraid that it will take him until whenever. In the moment he is not available, that’s true.”
However, that has not been the case and the coach has now revealed that he faces one to three weeks on the sidelines with the issue. Joe Gomez excelled in his place on Sunday and looks set to retain that position.
Premier League Team of the Week I: Featuring Crystal Palace and Liverpool favourites
Who made The Boot Room’s Team of the Week for Game Week 1?
Crystal Palace and Liverpool enjoyed away wins on the opening weekend of the Premier League season while Everton gave newly promoted Wolves a quick reminder of the tough task they face on their return to the top flight.
Following the weekend’s action, The Boot Room picks its six-a-side Team of the Week.
Crystal Palace duo Wayne Hennessey and Aaron Wan-Bissaka make up the defensive line, with both impressing in the Eagles’ 2-0 victory over newly-promoted Fulham.
The former made six saves in-between the sticks to ensure a well-deserved clean sheet, while the latter successfully nullified the attacking threat of the talented Ryan Sessegnon, ensuring last season’s Sky Bet Championship Player of the Year barely had a sniff all game. Meanwhile, he also turned creator for his side’s second goal of the afternoon.
Liverpool’s James Milner‘s imperious display ensures him a spot in midfield for the week. As the Reds strolled to a 4-0 victory over West Ham United at Anfield, the 32-year-old dominated proceedings, bettering his peers in seven key areas, including recording more touches of the ball than any other player on the pitch.
Keeping him company in midfield is Wolves talent Ruben Neves. Like Milner, the 21-year-old Portugal star was central to his club’s efforts throughout the opening week. He demonstrated his immense talent and a level of maturity beyond his years as he lead his side to a 2-2 draw, chipping in with a goal and an assist.
In attack, Everton’s Richarlison seems like a man who is clearly going to thrive on the pressure of performing at Goodison Park, at least if his debut for the Toffees is anything to go by. His well-taken brace against Wolves ensured a ten-man Toffees side emerged with a least a point in their first competitive outing under Marco Silva.
Finally, Liverpool star Sadio Mane proved he is not willing to fall quietly into Mohamed Salah’s shadow at Anfield with a terrific week one performance. The Senegalese forward was in red hot form as he netted a superb brace to pick up where he left off last season following his goal in the Champions League Final defeat to Real Madrid.
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