Probably. Maybe for good. At this current moment, definitely.
Daniel Sturridge’s performance against Southampton stood out for all the wrong reasons (and has been discussed at length and then some already), but the grumbling about his fitness and increasingly infrequent returns to form have been going on for quite a while now.
It’s not really a surprise when you look at Sturridge’s average top speed over the last four seasons. Sky Sports have done just that, and the steady decline from Sturridge’s first season at Liverpool to his current speed makes a solid case for no longer relying on him as the obvious first choice striker.
Jamie Carragher, in his official capacity as former-Red-turned-Sky-pundit, noted that the difference between the Sturridge of three years ago and the one we’re seeing now isn’t just the lack of pace, it’s the fact that his overall game isn’t what it used to be. Sturridge remains a wonderful finisher (when he finishes) but is no longer creating opportunities and shaping the game like he once did.
Sturridge scored 21 goals in 29 appearances in the 2013/2014 season, and created 29 chances. In the 2016/2017 season, he’s scored twice in 13 appearances and created 8 chances. The lack of goals this season is pretty dire, but arguably, the decline in creating chances is the real alarming sign. Liverpool isn’t performing well enough (and I can just end that sentence there, but I’ll continue) to rely on a striker who is seeing a steady drop in goal and chance production.
On the other hand, Sturridge has had an 18 percentage point increase in his shot accuracy between 2013 and now, so by 2020, Liverpool may have the most accurate, slowest striker we’ve ever had. There’s always that to look forward to.