Of all the numbers and statistics concerning Daniel Sturridge’s brief Liverpool career so far, none are as important or damning as the zero placed next to the Liverpool name on the scoresheet both during and after Monday night’s defeat to West Brom.
It was a match so typical of many Liverpool home performances over the past few seasons, and whilst there were always obviously going to be some who used it as yet another stick to beat the manager and his players with, you couldn’t help but wonder if things would have been different had Sturridge been available.
Before the arrival of the England forward from Chelsea last month, Liverpool were far too reliant on Luis Suarez for goals. On the odd occasions when he is off form or―as was the case on Monday―expertly marshaled by the West Brom pairing of Jonas Olsson and goalscorer Gareth McAuley, then the Reds’ plan B never looked too convincing.
Four goals in six Liverpool appearances ensured that the forward exploded onto the Reds scene and straight into the good books of many supporters.
He found the net in his first three matches, but it is the three goals in his four Premier League appearances that truly tell the story of his impact on the club.
So far Sturridge has yet to complete a full 90 minutes for Liverpool in the league, but during his 274 minutes on the pitch he has registered 16 shots at goal―half of which are on target (EPLIndex.com).
Having a player who is so willing to chance his arm and have a shot is a key plus point for a Liverpool team who have often looked meek and mild in front of goal.
Some of the negative reaction to the forward’s signing seemed to centre around a belief that he was arrogant and only interested in playing for himself, but whilst that has proven to be completely false during his early days in a Liverpool shirt, having that belief is by no means a bad thing.
In a team still evolving and one that is not going to be where it wants to be for some time yet then Sturridge’s potency could prove to be vital, and it will almost certainly be missed if and when he’s not there.
The selfishness argument doesn’t stack up when you look at Sturridge’s passing success rate anyway.
In three of his four league games Sturridge has found a teammate with a pass over 90 percent of the time, whilst the one time he didn’t register that much―his most impressive Reds display in the 2-2 draw at Manchester City―the forward still passed to a Red shirt 29 times from 33 attempts, a success rate of 88 percent (EPLIndex.com).
He’ll be judged on goals and not passes, of course, but in a team managed by a boss who prides himself on seeing his players keep possession, Sturridge’s link-up play―particularly with Suarez―will have pleased Brendan Rodgers immensely thus far.
In addition to the passing stats there is of course the “assist” he provided for Suarez’s goal against Norwich with an exquisite dummy of the ball from a Lucas Leiva pass, and the Englishman will only develop a better understanding with the Uruguayan the more they play together.
They were prevented from doing that against West Brom, and Liverpool ultimately paid the price. But if Sturridge can get back fit and firing ahead of the weekend’s match against a Swansea team likely to have a Wembley final on their minds, then there is no reason why Liverpool can’t get back to looking a threatening force in front of goal again.
Obviously they’ll need more than just their new marksman to fire, but as the stats show, he certainly makes a difference to just how fearsome the Reds look.