With Gini Wijnaldum not able to play and Adam Lallana only fit enough to make the bench, Daniel Sturridge was given the chance to shine against Manchester United on Monday. Sadly, that man who when on form is at least arguably the second best striker in the Premier League struggled to make an impact.
To make matters worse for those hoping to see Sturridge reestablish himself at Liverpool, the change when Lallana came on in the second half and Roberto Firmino moved up top was stark. Liverpool were instantly an improved side. Former Liverpool striker Emile Heskey, though, says Sturridge has to be given time.
“He’s an outstanding talent, one of those players who can just make something out of nothing,” Heskey, who spent five seasons at Anfield and scored 60 goals while in Liverpool red, told FourFourTwo. “He’s had a slow start to the season, but when he’s fit and on form there are very few in his calibre.”
The problem, though, is that if everyone else is fit it’s hard to see where Sturridge fits in. Great striker or not, Liverpool now look a far more dangerous side with Firmino setting the press and linking up with Philippe Coutinho, Sadio Mané, and Adam Lallana. With Firmino, Liverpool look free-scoring and dangerous.
Sturridge may individually offer more upside in front of goal, but on the evidence so far he hinders the press, counter, and attacking interplay of this Liverpool side. As such, Sturridge seems likely to move to the bench against West Brom on Saturday. In fact, at this point that he will seems a certainty.
The bigger question may not be whether he starts the next match as a substitute—it’s whether he gets on the pitch at all or whether Jürgen Klopp decides to use Divock Origi as an attacking substitute before looking to Sturridge and leaving the English star watching until the final whistle.