Sturridge could follow Suarez through Anfield exit – for different reason entirely

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Daniel Sturridge celebrates enthusiastically after scoring
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Matthew Schattner explains that Daniel Sturridge needs to build on his brace against Tottenham or risk being ruled redundant at Liverpool.

Daniel Sturridge scored two goals to ensure a Liverpool victory over Tottenham on Tuesday night in the EFL Cup, a contribution that the struggling striker will need to build on if he hopes to regain his best form.

The current Premier League season has been far Sturridge’s best. With no league goals to his name, the once prolific striker has seen his place threatened in Jürgen Klopp’s lineup. Roberto Firmino has been preferred up top, not just for his goals but for his defensive work and excellent team play and movement.

Sturridge was ineffective against a defensive Manchester United side as the two rivals ended in a 0-0 draw on 17 October, and the forward was withdrawn in the 59th minute. As Squawka reports, Sturridge managed only 1 touch inside the box, with 0 chances created, 0 take-ons, and a horrendous 0 shots. A striker with no shots and no chances created hardly presents a convincing argument for starting.

Klopp clearly took notice, dropping Sturridge to the bench for Liverpool’s next league game against West Brom. The Reds were dominant. The 2-1 scoreline flattered the Baggies, as the BBC reports that Liverpool had 68% of possession and 21 shots on goal to West Brom’s 7. While Liverpool may have still won had Sturridge received playing time, the immediate improvement in the team’s performance did not reflect well on the striker’s impact.

A strong performance was necessary in last night’s match against Tottenham. The EFL Cup is often not a priority for top clubs, but impressive individual performances never go unnoticed. Sturridge finally rose to the occasion, scoring the pair of goals that sent Liverpool to the quarter-finals.

Granted, Spurs started eight players age-23 and under, but Sturridge was clearly the best player on the pitch that evening. The Reds striker was always bound to find the net, putting a match-leading 6 of his 7 shots on target, per WhoScored. Sturridge also contributed 2 key passes and even 1 clearance on the defensive end.

“He’s a finisher, a really good striker – no doubt about this,” Klopp said in his post-match conference in regards to Sturridge’s game. “I was never in doubt about him even when he didn’t score. It’s not a question.”

Sturridge is the only remaining player from the deadly attacking triumvirate he formed with Raheem Sterling and Luis Suárez in the 2013-14 season, where his career high 21 goals and 7 assists helped Liverpool achieve second place in the Premier League. The striker has been left behind as Sterling and Suarez left for greater heights at City and Barcelona respectively, and a series of long-term injuries in the past three seasons have not helped him regain his goal scoring touch.

Sturridge will have to quickly build on his two goals against Tottenham if he is to convince Jürgen Klopp that he can still contribute to Liverpool. Otherwise, the striker risks being the final member of 2013-14 attacking trio to depart, and it will not be because a world-class club is desperate for his signature.

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