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23 Reasons Why Daniel Sturridge Needn't Be Upset by His Penalty Miss

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool reacts after missing a penalty during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images
Matt LadsonFeatured ColumnistJanuary 28, 2014

"Everton are tragic, Liverpool are magic" sang the Kop as Brendan Rodgers' side destroyed their neighbours from across the pond.

The phrase was coined by former Reds captain Emlyn Hughes as he danced a jig while celebrating the 1977 European Cup victory.

That era saw the two Merseyside teams often go head-to-head for the major honours in England, and this was arguably the most important Premier League derby in terms of what both sides had riding on it in the "race for fourth place."

Rodgers named an attacking team, the same 11 players who began the game against Aston Villa last time at Anfield—but the shape and tactics were vastly different.

The home side were happy to sit deeper than usual and allow Everton possession in areas that didn't threaten, then counter at speed.

And boy, did they counter. This was a lesson in counter-attacking football.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 28:  Daniel Sturridge (R) of Liverpool is congratulated by teammate Luis Suarez (L) after scoring his team's third goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Everton at Anfield on January 28, 2014 in L
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge interchanged roles throughout, and it left the Everton defenders unsure of who to pick up. One minute it was Sturridge through the middle and Suarez out wide on the left; a quick glance in the other direction and they'd swapped roles, the central striker getting between the defence in the process.

Jordan Henderson played much closer to Steven Gerrard, who excelled in the heat of the Merseyside derby. Gerrard defied his age to put in a performance more akin to those we became accustomed to in his early Liverpool days: tackling, blocking, spraying passes and, of course, scoring goals.

 

Sturridge

The only negative on the night was the sight of Sturridge leaving the pitch almost in tears, visibly upset at having missed not once, but twice the opportunity to score a historic hat-trick in a derby at Anfield.

It's not often a player will leave the pitch having scored two goals in two minutes, his side winning 4-0 a derby and be upset at his mistakes.

Gerrard continued his captain's role post-match by taking the blame for the penalty miss, explaining that is he who encouraged Sturridge to take the kick, per the Associated Press' Rob Harris:

Gerrard on Sturridge pen miss: "I take responsibility for that.I've scored a hat trick against Everton & I wanted Daniel to experience that"

— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) January 28, 2014

Walking through Stanley Park post-match, a bunch of Evertonians were dissecting the defeat. "Thank god Sturridge missed that penno or it'd been a cricket score," he moaned.

He wasn't wrong; Liverpool looked ruthless and devastating with every break away. Suarez showing his passion and hunger for the game, playing like it was 0-0 and showing his anger at Sturridge when he missed the chance to make it five.

Sturridge's head had gone after the penalty miss, and Rodgers rightly subbed him. Rodgers will need all his man-management skills and the help of his sports psychologist to ensure that Sturridge focuses on the positives from the night—two crucial goals, expertly taken.

That's 23 goals in 29 Premier League games for Liverpool. Cheer up, Daniel!

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