Does Sturridge deserve a start against Villarreal?

Does Sturridge deserve a start against Villarreal?

Much has been spoken about Daniel Sturridge’s supposed rocky future at Liverpool. Daniel Sturridge had the opportunity to be Liverpool’s next big player, but right now, the story is anything but that. For weeks and months, Anfield fretted over Sturridge’s health. Injury updates were followed by tentative comebacks and then the inevitable setbacks. However, every time he played when he was fit, he looked like a mighty opponent and aided Liverpool’s goal-scoring attacks.

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Liverpool fans breathed a sigh of relief as Klopp took the reins of Liverpool over from Brendan Rodgers, but one of the biggest shifts in thought at Anfield has been the attitude to Sturridge. Under Rodgers, it almost felt like Sturridge could never go wrong.

His mere presence was a cause for optimism, even if he could not make that presence felt on the pitch.

As far as his skills are concerned, Sturridge can be touted as one of the most effortless goal-scorers in the Premier League. He is quick, strikes the ball early and has an instinctive approach for finding space. His strike rate has been superb throughout his career. Even this season, he has scored 11 goals in 22 appearances.

Still, he was benched as an unused substitute during Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by Villarreal in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal. Not using Sturridge in an away match where Klopp was aiming to keep the game tight could be justified, possibly. But benching Sturridge during the second leg at Anfield might not be a good choice. It could only mean that Klopp believes the team is better without the England forward, and many fans would like to believe otherwise.

Jürgen Klopp has not decided whether to start Daniel Sturridge against Villarreal on Thursday despite Liverpool needing to overturn a 1-0 deficit to reach the Europa League final.

Sturridge was also among the substitutes for the Merseyside derby win over Everton, and this treatment meted out by their new manager has invited scrutiny of his suitability to Klopp’s methods, and the 26-year-old struggled to enhance his claims during Sunday’s Premier League loss at Swansea City.

Sturridge is needed in the team. Off-late, Klopp has preferred to utilise the harder running of Divock Origi (now injured) and Roberto Firmino but he needs a goal and Sturridge has five in his last eight starts.

Unfortunately, this should be Sturridge’s prime time in his career. It’s the right age, and he has all the resources he needs to be successful. In fact, he could even go to the European Championships as England’s main striker. Instead, his inability to produce sustained periods of fitness have provoked doubts at domestic and international level. Jamie Vardy and Harry Kane have surpassed Sturridge in the England line-up. The Liverpool striker somehow has to regain the initiative.

Seeing if Klopp plays Sturridge on the game against Villarreal will prove to be a turning point for him. The striker needs to understand though that if he gets a chance now; he needs to make use of it to the fullest to regain his form.