"When I was at Chelsea I wasn’t myself," was Daniel Sturridge's opening admission in an interview with the Anfield Wrap focused on what has become a common theme for him since arriving at Liverpool—the feeling that he has finally found a home. "I wasn’t me as a person in terms of how open I am. I was in my shell a lot. I always felt like I wasn’t relaxed there—I always felt that I couldn’t be myself and was always on edge."
Part of his inability to ever settle at Chelsea stemmed from a belief the club simply didn't believe in him. Always feeling a spare part meant pushing too hard and thinking too much rather than relying on instincts honed at the youth level with Aston Villa, Coventry, and Manchester City. With 14 goals and three assists in 16 league games this year and 28 goals in 35 total appearances since he arrived, it's fair to say Brendan Rodgers' trust in him at Liverpool has paid off.
Sturridge being trusted as a striker has seen the England international thrive after years on the periphery, an unlikely future with Chelsea the only constant no matter which manager was cycled through the Stamford Bridge turnstile. Even when he's been asked to take on a wider role at Liverpool, there's a feeling Rodgers sees him as a striker first—that no matter his defensive duties, when he gets around the box he's being asked to do the job that comes naturally.
"I always thought I’d make it but I was never sure if I’d play as a striker because people didn’t believe in me," he said. "I think that now I’m just playing the way that I did as a kid, but I’d never had the chance to do that. When I was playing as a winger at Chelsea I was over-thinking it because I wasn’t used to doing it. It’s about that split second when you have to decide whether you do this or do that whereas now I’m just playing on instinct."
That instinct has Sturridge scoring at a truly shocking rate this season. In fact, with a goal for every 3.9 shots, Sturridge is the deadliest of England's top five striker goalscorers, bettering teammate Luis Suarez' goal every 4.5 shots. He's also ahead of Sergio Aguero, who has a goal for every 4.7 shots, while Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud round out the top scoring strikers with a goal every 6.5 shots and a goal every 7.1 shots respectively.
"Some of the goals that I have scored have just been something that happens," he added. "Like the goal against Aston Villa, it happened so fast that I had to watch a video of it afterwards to see what I’d done. It’s strange, a lot of things that have happened in games I look back and have to ask myself what actually happened because it’s all happened so fast. You do things, and you carry on, and then you look back and you think, ‘Wow, that was decent!’"