Liverpool need Daniel Sturridge. Desperately. Moreover, Liverpool need Daniel Sturridge to be fit for the remainder of the season. This is something that Brendan Rodgers is clearly aware of as he has generally done a fine job of managing the Liverpool striker's minutes since the player's return to action earlier this year.
Liverpool saw a mixed display from a striker who is still feeling his way back into regular action. Sturridge's sharp movement and intelligent play is noticeable, but an unsure touch, inaccurate pass, and poor decision-making approaching the penalty box have been on display in the past few games. Despite a need to recover his old form, he remains a far superior option for Liverpool's system than any other striker in the squad. Jordan Henderson, captain once again in the absence of Steven Gerrard, summed it up well: "It’s amazing to have him back. His movement is great, he held the ball up outstandingly and his finish, well, he’s always a threat in the area."
The movement and threat Sturridge provides is essential as Liverpool play with a single striker. The match against Burnley was Sturridge's tenth since his goalscoring return against West Ham United, and the England international has scored three goals and created another in those games. Daniel Sturridge on his game would have scored two instead of one against Burnley and probably buried a chance from the bench against Manchester City to extend Liverpool's lead.
Sturridge is not doing too badly though considering the length of time he's been out and looks to be close to terrorising defenders as well as goalkeepers again. Three goals in ten appearances totalling 533 minutes gives him a goal every 177.66 minutes in all competitions since his return, and Sturridge is ready for more action. "I feel good since I’ve come back, ready to play every game," Sturridge asserted. "I don’t want to be eased in but I suppose with everything they want to ease me in. But I want to play every game."
Liverpool have managed to unlock the secret to defending well and controlling games, but finishing chances is still a problem for the Premier League's star team of 2015. With league games against Swansea City, Manchester United, and Arsenal on the horizon with no Europa League football in sight, Brendan Rodgers may need to start Daniel Sturridge as much as possible. It is heartening that Liverpool secured key victories over Southampton and Manchester City with the 25-year-old on the bench, but it may be time to start him especially with the considerable gaps between league matches.
A fit Daniel Sturridge may be the difference between top four qualification and narrowly missing out after an inspired run of form.