Daniel Sturridge is the best. Or, at least, this corner of TLO believes Daniel Sturridge is the best. Which is probably not at all a surprise because that’s been my personal position since 2012 but, well, we’re going to go hard on that this season.
Which is why it is my pleasure to announce that someone else thinks Daniel Sturridge is the best. Or, to be more accurate, an organization: the Premier League. And to be even more accurate, not that Daniel Sturridge is the best per se but rather that his curler into the top corner against Chelsea to nab a result is the best goal in the month of September. Which, we really can’t argue with that, can we?
A few things to consider about that specific goal:
- It came in the 89th minute and just after Sturridge had been substituted.
- It came against an organized Chelsea team that seemed to have done just enough to waltz out of Anfield with three points.
- It had to beat Kepa who was having a solid day minding the net.
Sturridge’s contribution in this match and notching a goal in his start against PSG marks a rather solid September for the resurgent striker. And when you consider that his return of 3 goals in 116 minutes across all competitions indicates that he’s on a blistering 2.33 goals per 90.
Sure, that number is likely off-balance because he doesn’t accumulate the same number of minutes as a standard striker, now that he’s being deployed as a supersub. Kind of like the inflated strikeout per innings rate of top closers in baseball, it’s a bit unfair to compare Daniel Sturridge’s per 90 rate against other strikers in the league.
But I think it is fair to think about how his role is difficult and rather unique in world football. Much like the position of the closer referenced above, he seems to have a very specific role on this club: nab a goal in limited minutes. The thing about that management that is perhaps more demanding than a closer is that Sturridge’s contributions center on him dropping into a game - and, if Klopp’s decision of when to substitute him in is a sign, it’s always right at the death - with minimal time to adjust to the flow. More, Sturridge is tasked with getting a contribution that requires a lot more team involvement. A top closer could strike out the side and notch a save, needing only himself and his catcher to make it happen. Sturridge will make runs, of course, and still needs to finish, but it is generally dependent on his teammates making key passes and creating scoring opportunities.
And this is what makes his goal against Chelsea perhaps that much more impressive: dropped into the dying moments of a match against a top class opponent, Sturridge made a goal out of nothing. Running against the grain and atypical in terms of how the game of football usually works, Sturridge came up with a magic moment.
I’m no scholar of the game and thus can’t say with certainty if there have been other forwards deployed - successfully - in a similar type of situation. But one of the joys I’ve taken out of this season has been to see Sturridge’s always imminent threat and clear class lead to actually nabbing some goals. Here’s hoping that Klopp’s management of his minutes and Sturridge’s hard work will continue to pay dividends for him and Liverpool.