The England international was a stand-out in Liverpool’s 6-1 rout of Southampton on Tuesday night. Can he put his injury issues behind him once and for all?
- Name: Daniel Sturridge
- Position: Forward
- Fantasy Price: £12.5m (PlayON), £10.1m (FPL)
- Appearances: 4
- Goals: 2
- Assists: 0
Jurgen Klopp commented last week that the England international needed to learn “what is serious pain and what is only pain”. In his own succinct and zero-fluff style, the German encapsulated all the frustrations that come with a player like Daniel Sturridge.
In his recent autobiography, Steven Gerrard likewise pulled no punches in painting Sturridge’s apprehensive and self-hindering nature when it comes to managing injuries and pain.
My memories of that game are dominated by the build-up, and Daniel feeling he was touch and go in terms of his fitness and desire to play. Facing Man U without Luis (Suarez) was tough enough, but if we lost Daniel as well, most of our ammunition would be gone.
We stayed at the Hope Street Hotel and had our usual team walk before the match, I positioned myself so that I walked next to Daniel for the whole 15 minutes. I had to try to persuade him to play.
Daniel is one of those people you have to boost sometimes with a “Come on! You’re our main man, just go for it!”.
Sturridge went on to face Manchester United on that occasion, but Gerrard’s testimony confirms the psychological impact and doubt that recurring injuries have taken on the player.
Participating in just 11 Premier League games since the beginning of last season, scrutiny had been mounting on the safety of Sturridge’s role within the Klopp set-up.
On Tuesday night at St. Mary’s, the Liverpool striker provided the perfect rebuttal. Going a goal down to a pedigreed Southampton side inside the opening exchanges, Sturridge fired back with a superb brace to set Liverpool on course for a 6-1 mauling.
Jurgen Klopp is a master motivator above all else. By some margin, he’s already raised the sum level of a team that looked both directionless and mentally weak in the final days of the Brendan Rodgers era. By chance or design, his criticisms of Sturridge coincided with the desired result.
So is it now safe to bring him into your fantasy team?
When he’s on the pitch, the man is deadly. There is no doubt about that. Scoring two goals from 20% of his efforts on goal this season, the Birmingham native ranks narrowly behind the likes of Everton duo Romelu Lukaku (21.7%) and Arouna Kone (23.8%) as well as league leader Jamie Vardy (25%) in terms of goal efficiency.
Travelling away to a Newcastle side that just shipped five goals to Crystal Palace in Gameweek 14, Sturridge has every opportunity to get back into the swing of Premier League action on Monday night. With the likely return of Coutinho and the reunion of the Brazilian’s budding understanding with Lallana and Firmino – a combination that was the root cause of Liverpool’s 4-1 demolition of Manchester City – the chances will come thick and fast for Liverpool’s no. 15.
His record for Liverpool really needs no introduction – but allow me to do so anyway. Since joining the club from Chelsea for £12m in 2013, Sturridge has managed 37 goals in 59 games. A ratio of 0.63 goals per game that outstrips the esteemed company of Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen, while drawing level with his ex-partner in crime, Luis Suarez.
Only Fernando Torres – with 0.65 goals per game – pips Sturridge among Liverpool strikers in the Premier League era.
In Fantasy Premier League, just 1.4% of managers have shown faith in the England striker ahead of Gameweek 15. Now could be the time to get that jump on your rivals and gain maximum value – and when Daniel Sturridge is on the pitch, that’s exactly what you’re going to get.