Tactical Analysis: Where would Sturridge fit in at Liverpool?

There has been a lot of speculation linking Daniel Sturridge with a move away from Chelsea. He has seen playing time limited as the club persist with Torres up front, as well as suffering from injury problems. With this in mind, Liverpool are among a number of clubs keen to sign the player in January. Despite a hit and miss record at Chelsea Sturridge remains a great prospect, but where would he fit in at Liverpool?

His versatility is a key factor motivating Rodgers to enquire about his availability. The young England forward can play both through the middle as a central striker as well as out wide as a support player. He has complained about not playing centrally, which is going to be an issue at Liverpool with Suarez in such fine form. Sturridge will likely play back up striker to Suarez, possibly starting out wide on the right, with Sterling on the left.

Above is Sturridge’s heatmap from last seasons 3-3 draw against Manchester United. Here we can see the sort of role he plays as a right winger. Sturridge looks to come inside at any given opportunity and take on defenders, as he did quite effectively in this game versus Evra. Sterling on the other flank does track back quite a lot, something Sturridge is not very good at. In this game he gave away a penalty after some very clumsy defending in Chelsea’s box. But generally speaking Rodgers encourages his full-backs to get high up the pitch and act as an outlet for the midfield, which can work well as Johnson will provide width, whilst Sturridge cuts inside to support Suarez:

As we see here from Johnson’s heatmap versus Swansea, he does provide good width, but also comes inside, something he’ll have to do less with Sturridge playing infront of him.

If he wants to get games as a centre-forward Liverpool is not really the club to go for. Even for the wide positions there will still be competition for places with Suso, Sterling, Borini and Assaidi all competing for those roles. Sturridge would probably edge it to play with Sterling and Suarez. His raw ability has been overlooked by Chelsea fans who have been mainly focused on the negatives such as his perceived greed and inability to make correct decisions. Aside from this he is very fast, skill full and offers a dangerous direct threat when running at a back four. He is also not afraid to go for goal and take on responsibility something a side reliant on Suarez for goals could really use. Sturridge scored 11 league goals from right wing for Chelsea last season, recording 3.1 shots per game, which demonstrates his confidence in his own abilities.

A fresh start

A fresh start would do Sturridge the World of good. Unfortunately for him (partly due to his own faults) the Chelsea faithful have turned against Sturridge, who now doesn’t exude as much confidence or swagger as he did when playing under AVB last year. A move to Liverpool could reinvigorate a player who is genuinely a very promising England prospect. Rodgers also has a reputation as a good man manager when it comes to nurturing young talent, as we can see with the way he has propelled Sterling to the first team.

At his age he needs to be playing regularly, something that simply won’t happen at Chelsea. His chances at centre-forward will be limited at Liverpool but probably more regular than at Chelsea, if for example Rodgers wants to rest Suarez or he gets injured. Playing in Liverpool’s relatively fluid front three would also give him the chance to interchange positions as Suarez often drifts into wide roles, leaving space in the middle to be attacked. With Sturridge, Sterling and Suarez Liverpool would have an incredibly exciting and dynamic front three. Wherever Sturridge goes it is important the gets games, as he remains one of the most exciting young English players around.

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1 comment for “Tactical Analysis: Where would Sturridge fit in at Liverpool?

  1. King Kong
    November 27, 2012 at 11:35

    What BR needs is someone who can support Suarez, not replace him (unless that’s what LFC wanted – replace Suarez). For me Sturridge can’t play that ‘between the hole’ player just behind Suarez. His decision making is poor at times and he probably shoots before passing this to anyone else. His directness of the game makes him more a substitute than a 1st teamer because we like to build play and be patient throughout (unless we are chasing the game).

    His wing play is about speed and he troll past defenders because of that. The main problem is he like to cut in like any ‘make-shift’ winger/striker, making him very predictable unless def’s get caught by pace. A tight def and behind the ball team will nullify his effectiveness. Players like Assaidi, Sterling, Johnson, Enrique, Suso, Cole are all fighting for these wingers slots.

    Bent would be a better piece of business. It’s a loan and probably cost us the loan fee. 12M sturridge won’t do for us and I think he’s overrated – and the Chelsea fans know it. We need someone who can play off Suarez, can see a pass, runs into space, interchange with Suarez, just between the hole.

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