TWO games. Two wins. Not the start we have become accustomed to in recent years at Anfield but long may our great start continue.
The player most responsible for our victories against Stoke and Aston Villa respectively has been the superb Daniel Sturridge with the winning goal in each game. Super Dan has started this season on fire and maintaining this electric form may be the deciding factor in whether we have a successful campaign or not.
Since signing for the Reds at the start of the year, Sturridge has made an instant impact and delivered high class performances on a regular basis. Not only has his goals return of 13 in 18 appearances marked this telling contribution in recent games but his ability to pose a constant threat to the opposition has also been worthy of note.
With genuine pace and an instinctive desire to attack opponents at the earliest opportunity Sturridge’s silky skills have caused problems to defences all over the land. But not just his goals it’s his overall contribution to the team including 5 assists and in terms of and energy and work rate that is additionally worth noting.
Against Villa he was constantly tracking back and this quote after picking up the man-of-the-match award about sums up his attitude perfectly:
“We defend as a team. If I have to be in the full-back position, so be it. It’s all about winning games.”
It has been very intriguing to watch the relationship on the pitch develop between Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho. Despite having relatively few games together the pair have seemed to develop an almost telepathic understanding that in time can prove as fruitful as the Gerrard-Torres combination.
The goal against Villa displayed this connection with Coutinho cleverly stepping over the ball aware of Sturridge’s position and allowing the creation of that extra yard of space so priceless in the box. With Coutinho consistently able to thread the ball through the eye of a needle Strurridge should be fully supplied with goal scoring opportunities this campaign.
It was interesting to learn the Redmen created more attempts at goal than any other team in the Premiership last season. With Sturridge firing on all cylinders we should surely have the goals to challenge for a top 4 finish.
A crucial consideration in this scenario is keeping Sturridge fit for the majority of the season. It is true he has been unfortunate with injuries in the last few years and you don’t need to cast your mind too far back to recall the recent ankle injury picked up on England duty.
However in football as in life there are certain things you simply have to accept and however hard you try simply cannot legislate against and for footballers getting injured is one of these things. We can only hope and pray his injury nightmares are behind him now as he definitely deserves an injury free season for once.
With the World Cup on the horizon keeping fit and scoring this season is even more important for Sturridge. As the favourite with many bookies to be the leading English scorer in the Premiership this year a good return for the Reds should guarantee Sturridge a place on the plane to Brazil.
If Sturridge plays in 30 league games this season he should be looking at 20 plus goals on current form. His impressive record currently stands at 8 goals in his last 7 Premiership games so the target of 20 plus may even be considered a conservative estimate. What clearly isn’t in doubt however is the fact he has become a vital element in our success on the pitch this season.
Last year we finished a disappointing 12 points off 4th place and unceremoniously below our own original noisy neighbours. If Sturridge manages to play in 75% of our league games this term it will be highly unlikely that depressing situation will be repeated again. More than just that though we will be serious contenders among the upper echelons in the Premiership – a position our heritage and history dictates.
Though by no means the finished product at 23 years old Sturridge has the potential to develop into an even better player. With time the ability to determine when to pass to teammates or when to try and beat opposition players will become more honed and finely tuned for Sturridge to add even more strings to his already heavily talent-laden bow.
A natural goal scorer and big match player Sturridge has looked comfortable in a Red shirt since day one. Next weekend the game of the season so far happens to fall on Super Dan’s birthday. Let’s hope it’s a positive omen and ex Toffee Moyes is left chocking on a large slice of humble pie come 3.30pm next Sunday!