Every top side needs a twenty league goals a season striker but thankfully Liverpool have two. When one is off colour, the other can ensure that the side retains a sharp edge against any opponent. Unfortunately, Liverpool had one Luis Suárez and an injured Daniel Sturridge on the bench against Chelsea. Both have been excellent for the togetherness of the squad and Sturridge has been one of the brighter spots of a campaign where there is plenty left to play for.
Sturridge's arrival for £12 million in January 2013 was met with scepticism and questions surrounding his form, fitness, and character. Within months most of those questions had been answered emphatically and this season has continued to provide compelling evidence that Sturridge was never given the break he needed to fully display his considerable talent. He was one of the most promising teenagers in European football with Manchester City and was a player of noted potential at Chelsea.
Daniel Sturridge's only opportunities were under the short André Villas-Boas era at Chelsea in a right-wing forward slot where he could cut in on his left foot and a short loan at Bolton under Owen Coyle at Bolton. At the time of both opportunities, both managers were touted as the game's brightest managerial tactics and showed faith in Sturridge. The goal returns were eye-catching but he was still branded as a selfish striker. In less than 18 months, Sturridge is one of the Premier League's deadliest strikers and Liverpool bagged a superb bargain when Sturridge was picked up. He comes from a family of footballers, both his uncles played in England and his father played in Finland amongst other places.
It is good to hear that Sturridge is so grounded and his family has been a big part of that. In a heart-warming piece, Sturridge's parents explained why their son might be a great room-mate for any Liverpool player as long as they don't engage in a dominoes competition. He's a good cook, an excellent dominoes player, and obviously an excellent striker but his family remain central in keeping Sturridge focused as well as providing a physical presence in the city of Liverpool.
"The first time he has lived away from home was when he moved to Liverpool," Sturridge's proud father Michael says. "So now he's living with his brother and his cousin. They live in Liverpool with him. It's the first time he's been away from the family but we do see him regularly. We watch every home game. I still give him stick for whatever he does wrong. I'm one of his biggest critics. Anything he does wrong in the game, we try and look at how he could do it better. But Daniel's hard on himself anyway so he always looks to improve in everything he does in the game, whether it's closing down, working for the team."
Sometimes a player seems to have surprised many with how good they are but with some players, all a coach needs to do is give them an opportunity. Apparently, Daniel Sturridge has been studying the game before his tenth birthday and if he regains full fitness, Liverpool will need all the knowledge he has accumulated to score as many goals as possible in the two remaining league games of the season. Michael Sturridge's career was even up for scrutiny by his son and even goal celebrations were a sign of a fierce desire to win.
He's always been doing that, since he was eight years old, he's always been watching players. We're talking about VHS. He had loads. And before that, he was watching Betamax. He was watching me, because I played in Finland and he watched me play when I was there.He would study the videos and try to do the things he saw the star players do, whether he was celebrating. He's been celebrating from a very young age. He would imitate a bit of every player. One week he would celebrate this way, the next week he would celebrate a different way. But he had a love for the game. He loved to celebrate and he hated losing. He's very, very competitive.
The Sturridges talk of a player that Liverpool fans recognise not the one who was desperate to score a goal to prove his worth in 5 substitute minutes for Chelsea or the youngster who believed that Manchester City didn't value his ability enough to keep him. Daniel Sturridge's mother Grace described her son as "a dab hand in the kitchen" and Liverpool fans know he's a dab hand in front of goal. We know the sort of player we have and realise he's a player opposition defences fear and respect. However, we also understand that he's humble, driven, and contributes to the team spirit that has propelled this Liverpool side to the cusp of a glorious moment that is still within reach.
Get well soon Daniel Sturridge because we need you.