Why Daniel Sturridge is criminally underrated

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Daniel Sturridge training with Liverpool at Melwood ahead of the Premier League clash against Burnley at Turf Moor
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Aaron Curry discusses why Daniel Sturridge isn’t rated as highly as he probably should be.

In January 2013, it was announced that Liverpool had acquired the signature of striker Daniel Sturridge from league rivals, Chelsea.

In this time it has been a roller-coaster ride for the Englishman, producing some momentous highs and stooping lows in the famous Liverpool jersey.

I for one was certainly excited to see Sturridge in a red shirt, especially after watching his performance against the United Arab Emirates in the London 2012 Olympics. He managed to delicately chip the keeper from around 18 yards, giving fans a glimpse of what they might come to see on a regular basis. At the age of just 22, he was already demonstrating the pace, power and finishing which was in short supply within the squad.

He instantly made an impact on his debut. He opened the scoring in a 2-1 away win at Mansfield Town, in the FA Cup. A game which was wholly overshadowed by Luis Suarez’ handball fiasco. Nevertheless, Sturridge kicked on from this point and should have been one of the first names on the Liverpool team sheet every week. However, he wasn’t due to his reoccurring injuries.

 

Since joining from Chelsea, he has encountered a whopping 19 injuries with his latest being only a minor setback keeping him out of the satisfying 4-3 win over Arsenal. His underlying problem has been his thigh/hip injuries, which seemingly never end. 10 of his total 19 injuries were sustained through either his thigh or hip, and all in all, it has sadly meant that he’s missed more games than he has played for Liverpool.

Missing more games than you start for your club is an astonishingly true statement and is probably the cause of why some fans like to joke,“He’s made of glass”. His injury plagued time at Anfield, has even left a small minority of fans disgruntled, to the point of wanting him sold. Personally, I feel like this is a step too far as his technical ability can’t be denied.

His talent for finding the back of the net can only be matched by a few strikers in the Premier League. Big names such as Sergio Aguero and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are clear standouts when it comes to this. One area where Sturridge particularly shines is his goal per game ratio. Scoring 53 goals in 92 appearances for Liverpool cements the argument for him being a potent goal threat.

Delving deeper into the statistics: 18 of the total 92 appearances were made as a substitute which obviously takes away some of the time he has to get a goal. In addition, in a handful of these appearances he had only just come back from a certain injury which then adds to difficulty of bagging a goal – due to the lowered fitness levels.

 

The fact that the Englishman’s talent is completely overlooked by certain parts of the fan base is utterly ludicrous. I think back to certain aspects of his Liverpool career which includes; the deadly partnership with Luis Suarez, the audacious chip against West Brom in front of the Kop and of course, the wonder strike in the Europa League final. The man oozes class.

These are just some of the many highlights to his technical abilities, but then there is the mental side of the game which can’t be ignored either. Experts constantly mention that a player coming back from an injury needs a few games to settle back into their rhythm before they are able to perform well again. In Sturridge’s case, rather than being eased back into better performances he has always managed to slot back in and conjure up a goal or two.

The mental side of his game has been crucial to his never-ending recoveries and comebacks. Take the 6-1 thrashing of Southampton in the Cup last season. It was his first start after recovering from his latest injury setback, and he helped the team by scoring a brace. He could have easily chosen to give up and move on with the amount of injuries he’s had, but the man persists on wanting to be the best.

In essence, the only thing stopping Sturridge from becoming a 20 goal-a-season player, are his inevitable spells on the sideline. If he can work with fitness coach, Andreas Kornmayer, and other physios he is sure to become one of the best players in the league. At least if it reaches that point, not a single person will be able to doubt his talent for a second longer.

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