Daniel Sturridge has been nothing short of sensational since he signed for Liverpool in January of 2013, scoring on his debut and scoring goals for fun alongside teammate Luis Suárez. Sturridge has come a long way since being labelled greedy and unaware by many pundits and fans, he’s also completely destroyed Sir Alex Ferguson’s notion that “Brendan Rodgers is taking a bit of a gamble” by signing the striker from Chelsea.
The Midlands born striker has netted an impressive 30 goals in 38 appearances in all competitions and his 2013/14 season has been nothing short of superb. Since the opening match against Stoke City, Sturridge has gone on to net 19 goals in 22 appearances with 16 of those coming in the league alone. However, the England striker is much more than just a goalscorer - as the stats will show.
Gold on the horizon?
Liverpool supporters have been truly blessed this season with the Reds’ attack containing the two highest Premier League goalscorers. Luis Suárez currently resides on a monumental 23, whereas Sturridge sits slightly lower on 16 - the closest non-Liverpool competitor is the currently-injured Sergio Aguero, a huge factor in determining who will be the Golden Boot winner this season. At the moment you’d suspect that Suárez is uncatchable at the pinnacle of the Premier League goalscorers chart but Rodgers has clearly decided he wants the Uruguayan to play out wide with Sturridge down the middle - so, perhaps the race is still on despite the seven goal swing required for the English striker to recover. It’s certainly possible if Sturridge can keep his performance levels as high as they have been.
As you can see from the attacking statistics illustrated above, Sturridge is not quite at Suárez’s world class level yet but the fact he’s running him so close in so many departments is very impressive - especially considering that many value Luis Suárez at a Gareth Bale-style price. The two Liverpool strikers are completely inseparable when it comes to clear-cut chances converted, with both strikers scoring ten CCC’s and missing an additional nine - this leaves both frontmen locked on 53% for CCC conversion rate. This is an excellent figure for a striker and both should be very proud of their finishing this season. However, perhaps it is more impressive from Sturridge’s perspective with the England man three years Suárez’s junior and not quite into his prime years yet. Perhaps Sturridge’s impressive season can be even better illustrated by looking at the chance conversion row which shows that the younger man has a better percentage than the South American - 28% to Suárez’s 24%.
Talking about Sturridge on his own just adds to the growing opinion that he could be world class in the future. Sturridge has scored in all but three, yes 3, of his Premier League appearances this season - that includes substitute appearances too. The England man scores with 28% of the shots he hits and 54% of his total shots hit the target at the very least. You could even regard him as slightly unlucky with the woodwork being struck on two occasions so far this season.
There is of course room to improve which is great news for Liverpool and England fans - but bad news for opposition defences. Sturridge could use his right foot a little more as 41 shots have been taken with his strongest left foot compared to just 13 strikes with his weaker right. However, this can all be improved with time and Sturridge certainly has enough of that.
As I mentioned earlier, Sturridge hasn’t just been a goalscorer this season and his value to Liverpool stretches well beyond the eighteen yard line. The pacey frontman creates a clear-cut chance for his teammates every 283.4 minutes - that isn’t great but it could be a lot worse, there are certainly many midfielders out there who would love to create a huge chance every two or three games - as Sturridge is. Suárez is certainly the more creative of the two Liverpool strikers but he’s a slightly different kind of striker to the England man so that could be expected. The Uruguayan has more assists (8 to 4), has attempted more crosses (58 to 13) and embarked on more dribbles (153 to 59) than Sturridge but this can be explained by noticing that Suárez has played more games and match minutes (1884 to Sturridge’s 1417) than Sturridge. These stats should also not be used to show Sturridge is weaker than Suárez but simply to point out that they have slightly different characteristics.
Taking away the unique and freakish footballing levels of Suárez and Sturridge looks much more impressive. He’s created five clear-cut chances for his teammates and has four assists to his name which isn’t far off Jordan Henderson, who has six to his name having played every game this season. The former Manchester City academy player has also created 14 chances from open play (chance = any shot at goal) and has a decent passing accuracy of 79% - which is fine for someone playing so high up the pitch. Sturridge does keep the ball a little better than Suárez too, and he only loses possession every seven minutes compared to Suarez’s four.
All in all, Sturridge has gone onto new found heights this season and his work ethic on and off the pitch shows a great mentality for a player who was originally believed to be lazy and greedy. Not only has he proved his doubters completely wrong since he signed for Liverpool but he’s done it the hard way; he missed the whole of Liverpool’s pre-season after sustaining an injury whilst on England duty at the end of last season and suffered a bad knock this season, which forced him to miss the whole festive period - all this, and he’s still out performing most of the Premier League’s top players, including people like Wayne Rooney and Alvaro Negredo. Sturridge’s fine form will mean little to the player unless he can fire the Reds into next season’s Champions League. But, we can still see just amazing he has been - and hopefully the same applies for England fans, and Roy Hodgson.