Feature Writer

Daniel Sturridge Can Flourish for Liverpool in Luis Suarez’s Absence

The imminent loss of Luis Suarez this summer will be a huge blow to Liverpool, but Daniel Sturridge can make up for the sale of his strike partner.

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 2, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the opening goal against West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at the Hawthorns. (Pic by Chris Brunskill/Propaganda)

The sale of Luis Suarez to Barcelona this summer is creeping ever closer, but Liverpool fans can find solace in the endurance of Daniel Sturridge.

The pair scored 52 goals between them last season as the Reds stormed the Premier League.

In Suarez’s absence, however, it is currently all left down to his soon-to-be former partner.

James Pearce, of the Liverpool Echo writes that “it’s not as if Sturridge will be left impotent by Suarez’s exit. In fact it will probably have the opposite effect on him.”

This is a notion echoed by the 24-year-old’s manager, Brendan Rodgers, who wholly believes the Englishman can become “world-class.”

In the absence of Suarez, Sturridge can prove himself and shine in a central role for Liverpool.


Liverpool’s SAS

CARDIFF, WALES - Saturday, March 22, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the fith goal against Cardiff City with team-mate Luis Suarez during the Premiership match at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The likely loss of Suarez this summer is a killer blow to Rodgers’ long-term plans, as the Uruguayan formed a sensational partnership with Sturridge last season.

However, there is nothing to suggest that a move into a genuine centre-forward role next season couldn’t see Sturridge flourish just the same, as can be seen in comparison with Suarez.

Suarez age – 27
Sturridge age – 24

Firstly, it is worth considering, before any comparison is made, that Sturridge is three years Suarez’s junior, and—fingers crossed—yet to reach his peak as a centre-forward.

Also, Rodgers’ system was wholly tailored to accommodate the talents of Suarez, with the majority of the Reds’ attacks focussed on his movement, ball-play and goalscoring abilities.

This, clearly, will need to be adapted in lieu of the 27-year-old.

Suarez league goals – 31
Suarez goals to games ratio – 0.94
Sturridge league goals – 21
Sturridge goals to games ratio – 0.72

Suarez’s main threat last season was, evidently, his knack for finding the back of the net, and an astonishing haul of 31 goals in 33 league games in 2013/14 is testament to that.

The Uruguayan scored a goal every 0.94 games.

Sturridge’s record is yet to match up with that of his strike partner but, with 21 league goals last season and a record of a goal every 0.72 games, the Englishman is right behind Suarez in the 2013/14 leader boards.

Suarez goals to shots ratio – 0.17
Sturridge goals to shots ratio – 0.21

The above statistics show, however, that Sturridge was the more clinical presence in front of goal, netting with over a fifth of his shots.

Suarez is not far behind but, at a goal every 0.17 shots, trails behind the 24-year-old.

Suarez passes per assist – 105.7
Sturridge passes per assist – 105.7

Furthermore, Sturridge was also ultimately as creative as his strike partner, registering an assist every 105.7 passes.

Naturally this is skewed due to the much larger amount of passes that the Uruguayan played, in his role as the focal point of Rodgers’ system.

This is further skewed by the exceptional positional relationship the pair enjoyed in the Premier League last season—it is fair to say the majority of Sturridge’s assists were aided by Suarez’s movement, ending in a Suarez flourish.

However, in theory, if a confident Sturridge plays a central role he will provide in the same vein.

(All statistics via WhoScored.)


Adapting the System

The addition of Adam Lallana, a player who created only 16 less chances from open play than Suarez did last season, will help to alleviate the creative pressure on Sturridge next season.

The Englishman, who featured alongside Sturridge at this year’s World Cup, thrived as Southampton’s main creative outlet last season, a quality which Rodgers will certainly look to harness as a renewed challenge for the Premier League title in 2014/15.

Players such as potential signing Lazar Markovic and Brazilian No. 10 Coutinho will also help to fill this void.

Suarez’s absence will be felt hugely, but Rodgers is likely already looking to adapt his system to cope without the mercurial striker.

Sturridge can be key within this.

Speaking on the signing of the 24-year-old in 2013, Rodgers identified Sturridge’s role within a malleable system for the Reds:

“There is not one way to play 4-3-3. You can have one up and two wingers, a floating nine like Luis Suarez, you can have one like Daniel Sturridge central, two in and around him narrow with full backs bombing on. The principles of your game are based on your players. I think for Daniel his best position will be straight through the middle with his pace.”

Substitute Suarez’s name in the above quote and you have an admittedly weakened Liverpool side, but one which a pragmatic Rodgers is set up to cater for.

His assertion that the “principles of your game are based on your players,” is key, and with the Reds certain to invest the £75 million fee quoted for Suarez this summer, the manager will likely have the players to adapt around.



LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 23, 2014: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge in action against Swansea City during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

However, Sturridge cannot be the be-all and end-all for Rodgers’ side next season, and the Ulsterman will do well to accommodate for the absence of the Englishman at times.

As seen above, the Englishman has been dogged with injury issues in recent season, and his missing nine league games last season will surely ring alarm bells for Rodgers.

The signing of Rickie Lambert from Southampton will relieve this pressure to an extent, and the 32-year-old is an exceptional acquisition—a player who scored 13 and made a further 10 in 37 appearances for the Saints last season.

However, it is likely that the Reds will need to sign another centre-forward, who could play in tandem with Sturridge or as a replacement when the going gets tough.

A player such as QPR’s errant Loic Remy or Swansea City’s Wilfried Bony could fill this void.

As seen within Sturridge’s performances for England at this year’s World Cup, devoid of support once the spectacular Raheem Sterling was shunted into the periphery, the 24-year-old can’t do it all alone.

This is a quality reserved for a one-in-a-million talent such as Suarez, capable of turning water into wine.

However, Sturridge showed last season that he is able to perform consistently in the Premier League, scoring and creating with aplomb.

With the right support and a tweaked system courtesy of Rodgers, Sturridge is well within his means to be the focal point of a hugely successful Liverpool side in the absence of Suarez.

All hope is not lost.

Do you think Daniel Sturridge can be Liverpool’s main man next season? Let us know in the comments below.

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Feature writer focussing on match and player analysis for This Is Anfield. Follow @jacklusby_ on Twitter.
All posts are reactively-moderated and must obey the comment policy.
  • ?? ?????

    He is born as a goalscorer, definitely! If he had luck with injuries next season, he will score 20 or more goals again in Premier league.

    • Rederik

      Yes and with a beafed up defense letting 15 or twenty less in suarez won’t even be missed.

  • CARR71

    what you forget to mention is that who ever plays with suarez upfront will get more space because the defence is more concerned about him ,if sturridge is the main man does he have the skill to beat two defenders i have my doubts
    but its is big chance and lets face it he is probably the only player happy suarez is leaving at lfc ,so come on danny you want the limelight now steal it

    • serbianred

      Sterling and Sturridge can both beat couple of players and score a goal thats why we were so dangerous last year we had a number of players who could create goal by themselves plus for once we were awesemo going forward in dead ball situations. Markovic and Lalana should also be able to take players on and Coutihno to some extent. Comparing to Rafa and Kenny years we have more players of that type which for me is positive

      • CARR71

        they will both have a lot more defenders marking them next season ,and yes we are better going forward but you will be when the defence is so stretched because we are going all out attack even when we do not need to ala chelsea

    • Rederik

      I wouldn’t say the only player, my guess would be more like the entire team is happy to see him leave before he done the team ireparable damage.

      • Redblooded Male

        I dont think so, without Suarez some of the passengers will be exposed & won’t be able to hide behind his excellence.

      • CARR71

        i doubt it good players want to play with better ones it improves there game

        • Rederik

          Is that why Suarez’s game improved when he came to play for Liverpool

    • Scott Davies

      Did he not score goals before Suarez came back from suspension?

    • SuarezSticksIt2U_Again

      Mate Daniel biggest strength is his intelligent runs and getting into the right positions to be fed.

      You are right that he hasn’t got the skill set to take on players like Luis does…but i fairness not even Messi can take on & beat 2/3/4 players like Luis can.

      Messi does it with speed and protecting the ball with the positioning & strength of his body because of his low centre of gravity.

      • CARR71

        but whos going to feed him and he will also have defenders that was marking (trying)suarez out of the game on him this season

    • Redblooded Male

      Who’s our best player now, once Suarez goes?

      • CARR71

        hard to say but i would say henderson could be our most important because without him and gerrard playing DM our midfield could be totally overrun

  • Ryan Mccreadie

    Suarez only scored 12 goals in the second half of last season, 3 of those coming in one game, whilst the Liverpool team as a whole scored 57 times. The 2 or 3 months between Suarez coming back and the end of December, Suarez completly carried our team, with Sterling and Coutinho yet to perform well, and Sturridge being injured for half of that time, he literally did all of the attacking by himself. However during the 2nd part of the season, and during our 16 game unbeaten run, Suarez might not of even been our best player. I think with couple of attacking signings, on top of those already purchased, we will be able to make up for the loss of his goals, however we will need to sign a world class player to make up for the loss of his creativity.

  • Rederik

    Sturridge will do the job well lets face it he is probably the best striker in the premiership now that gnasher is leaving so Liverpool is in a great position Sturridge did very well at the beginning of last season when Suarez was missing in fact we couldn’t have asked for more. and we won’t have to fear lengthy suspensions due to serious character flaws.

  • SuarezSticksIt2U_Again

    Bravo young Jack much better article mate.

    In the two pronged attack we predominantly used last season when we had Luis playing the foil to Daniel as the main target we were at our most awesome as Luis had the experience & expertise to play this position.

    When the roles would reverse we were not as effective as Daniel doesn’t fully understand his roll when playing the foil and his positioning was what was most lacking.

    You are correct that Daniel will flourish when he leads the line next season, and mainly for this reason.

    One thing that stood out from last season also is when Daniel led the line for most or all of a match young Phil had enormous matches and was MOTM mainly because he had a true out & out striker in Daniel running the lines, whom he could feed with magical balls.

    As good as Luis is he doesn’t run the lines as effectively as Daniel does.

    This is why i know Daniel will have a humungous season coming, as long as he can remain fit and this is where BR comes into the equation.


    Arsenal have shown that we can cope without Suarez.When they sold RVP it was a stupid decision to sell to a direct rival because it gifted Man Utd the title.However they replaced Van Persie with Giroud and only scored two goals less the following season.Collectively Arsenal took responsibility and we need to do the same.Rather than put all the pressure on DS’ shoulders.

  • Redblooded Male

    Sturridge & Markovic aka S&M! or M&S! The signing after Markovic (if there is one) will give an indication of our ambitions this season.

    • ?oe ?enni? ßloggs

      OMG! Both acronyms are bad! Still, those are better than SNL. That’ll be good only for a few laughs.

      • Redblooded Male

        Who’s N?

        • ?oe ?enni? ßloggs


  • Justin Hess

    I think Sturridge is a fantastic player with a natural raw talent.

    What he needs to do is mature, grow confident in his abilities. He has a tendency to do fancy, unnecessary tricky stuff when keeping it simpler would be more efficient and less risky.

    He can, let’s face it, be a bit foolish.

    He needs to stop trying to be Thierry Henry (his noted idol) and rather be Daniel Sturridge.

    That all being said, with Suarez gone, its all on Sturridge and I think he has the stuff to take it

  • Bloody from Serbia

    Good article.. Great player.. Gonna flourish indeed.. This is so good for him.. I hope gonna get better than Luis when becomes 27 yo..


    lets face it he’s gonna have to be, no Suarez, no backup world class striker, (yes i think he is!!) looks to me like a new plan going to “come together” this one involving him as leading role, couts, raheem, and ibe being the follow ups,( lallana poss an astute interim/tutor) we could buy someone of Suarez quality (23mil when we got him,which means paying 30+ mil in today’s market) but it ain’t happening so far and doesn’t look like it’s near either, last year was battle to get into the champions league, but we had a Suarez so almost guaranteed, this year we will see what BR is made of,and if his tactics pay off, and not just watch and hope Suarez gets the ball as he will do the rest.

    • Bloody from Serbia

      We cannot afford 40+ player in this moment, even if we sell our for 75.. that’s reality now..

      • LFCUKNUT

        and when sturridge is taken out by defender in the first match or any match then rested due to his dodgy ankles…. then what ….lambo !!…hmm

    • SuarezSticksIt2U_Again

      I think you are confusing your seasons mate.

      In BR first season yes your assessment is correct.

      But the 13/14 season was far removed from a one man Suarez show.

      In fact he had a better season because of the fact he finally had some quality around him in Sturridge, Sterling & Coutinho and could share/spread the resposibility.

      Rodgers also won many games with his tactical preparations and mid game reshuffles.

  • Goh Jun Ling

    What’s better than Daniel Sturridge? 2x Daniel Sturridge! :D

    • CARR71

      would they ever pass to each other though

  • j75j

    Thank God that Coutinho was not part of this Brazil team!
    Not just Sturridge but Coutinho and Sterling can also step forward and grab more goals.

  • SuarezSticksIt2U_Again

    Did the manner of the German demolition remind anybody of a certain EPL team and their managers style of play/footballing philosophy????

    Has Joachim been studying Brendan?

    Could you just imagine young Daniel leading the line?

    THRIVE would be a more apt description.

  • Vinoth Ramasamy

    Good views, but just a minor mistake that caught my eye. The goals to game ratio is actually the amount of goals scored in a game, not the other way around as you have mentioned here which is the amount of games per goal. EX: Suarez’s 0.94 means that he scores 0.94 goals per game and not that he scores a goal every 0.94 games.. Cheers YNWA.. hoping for a brilliant season and a great transfer window..

  • ?oe ?enni? ßloggs

    I think they will be making a huge mistake if they don’t ‘replace’ Suarez with a world- class forward who can play anywhere at the front – as a prolific finisher or drag defenders out of position.

  • Ibrahim Elmi

    every striker is selfish , plus suarez takes more shots then sturridge.

  • CARR71

    he was poor a lot last season and for me will be the one most under pressure from lallana

  • CARR71

    lets see if he gets near 20 league goals next season

  • superseiyan

    The problem with Sturridge is he’s like the striker version of Agger–seems brittle. I hope he is not injured every other game this season, that’d be a huge loss.

  • Keith

    Sturridge’s form will depend a lot upon Coutinho. if they link up as well as they did when they first joined, we’ll have more than a few goals in hand.