England V Peru Film Focus Review: Sturridge Thrives When Given Liverpool Freedom

Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 31, 2014

England's Daniel Sturridge gestures after scoring a goal during the international friendly soccer match between England and Peru at Wembley Stadium in London, Friday, May 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press

England's final pre-World Cup friendly on home soil eventually went to plan, a comfortable 3-0 victory over Peru sending the Wembley crowd home happy and somewhat hopeful ahead of the challenges that lie in Brazil.

A dull opening half hour was blown away when Daniel Sturridge expertly fired into the top corner after accepting a throw-in from Liverpool teammate Glen Johnson and cutting inside from the right flank.

Two Leighton Baines' corners led to goals from the centre-back pairing of Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka in the second half, as England eased to a victory over their South American opponents.

What did they learn from their exercise, though? Here are a few points that Roy Hodgson will be considering:


Daniel Sturridge Needs to be Given His Liverpool Freedom to Thrive

Four of England's Liverpool contingent started the game at Wembley, with Raheem Sterling becoming the fifth Red to feature when he replaced Wayne Rooney in the 66th minute.

After Paul Scholes claimed that England need to be more like Liverpool to succeed in Brazil (BBC), one of the key features of their game here saw Sturridge being awarded the freedom which led to him scoring 24 goals for the Reds in all competitions in the season just gone.

Liverpool supporters would have recognised the goal that the forward scored here, as it mimicked one that he scored at the Kop end in a 2-1 win over Sunderland in late March as the Reds continued their challenge for the Premier League title.

With the likes of former England forward Gary Lineker leading the calls for Sturridge to be installed as the focal point of Hodgson's team—perhaps even at the expense of Wayne Rooney—the Liverpool forward must be full of confidence heading into what is his first major international tournament, and whilst he won’t have Luis Suarez alongside him here, he can thrive in his own right.

The goal he scored showcased just how comfortable he feels at the moment, and that can only be good for England.


Leighton Baines Will Be One of England’s Most Important Players in Brazil

Again tweeted by Lineker, who is one of his nation's most passionate observers, the importance of set-pieces to this England team cannot be understated.

During the Hodgson reign, Steven Gerrard's delivery from corners and free-kicks has been crucial to the hopes of the Three Lions, with Joleon Lescott's goal against France in England's opening game of Euro 2012 just one example of the chaos that they can cause.

With Leighton Baines now established as his country's first-choice left-back, though, England have added another threat. Gerrard can deliver from one side, but if the angle doesn’t suit the captain, then Baines can step in and produce a set piece which is just as threatening.

Cahill and Baines' Everton teammate Jagielka profited here, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Three Lions' first-choice central defensive partnership profit with a goal or two in Brazil given such accurate delivery.


Jordan Henderson’s All-Round Game is Vital

Unlike his Liverpool teammate Sturridge, Jordan Henderson is a player who will need to abandon his club instincts in this England side.

Whereas the midfielder is encouraged to bomb forward by club manager Brendan Rodgers, he'll have to sit deeper in this Hodgson side and play alongside Gerrard.

Indeed, with Adam Lallana widely tipped to join Henderson at Liverpool in the coming weeks (BBC), Henderson might find himself adopting a deeper role more often next season, and so all-action performances such as this one against Swansea in February are likely to become more rare and completely absent in Brazil as he performs a vital role in Hodgson's engine room.