With Daniel Sturridge struggling for form under Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool, statistics may have highlighted just why he has dropped down the ranks.
Sturridge has played just 520 of a possible 1980 minutes in the Premier League this season, or 26.3 percent, with injuries and form hampering his prospects.
The 27-year-old has been largely limited to cup appearances, with two outings in the FA Cup and four in the League Cup, playing 55.4 percent of available minutes in both.
His latest start came in Wednesday night’s 1-0 defeat at home to Southampton in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final, with Jamie Carragher questioning his contribution after the game.
“There was one occasion in the game tonight where he fell over into the hoardings in front of the Kop and I thought he had to get that ball,” he said.
“I don’t know if his pace has completely gone or whether he’s that worried with injuries that he pulls out of something.”
Carragher’s suggestion that Sturridge had lost his pace, having experienced his blistering speed when he was still playing for Liverpool in 2013, is a pertinent one.
According to Sky Sports, Sturridge’s top speed has decreased in each season since, losing almost four kilometres per hour in total over four years:
Sturridge’s Average Top Speed Per Game (PL)
- 2013/14: 32.4km/h
- 2014/15: 30.5km/h
- 2015/16: 29.5km/h
- 2016/17: 28.5km/h
In 2013/14, Sturridge was Liverpool’s fastest player on the pitch on eight occasions, while he was the fastest overall in five games, but he hasn’t achieved that feat once since that season.
Remarkably, Sturridge has been the slowest player in Liverpool’s starting lineup in three of his five Premier League starts this season, despite the likes of Ragnar Klavan, Lucas Leiva and James Milner featuring alongside him.
This could be another indication as to why Klopp has opted to field Roberto Firmino as his first-choice centre-forward in 2016/17, with the Brazilian clearly faster than the No. 15.
That Sturridge has been so affected by his decrease in pace is arguably due to a necessary change in his style of play, as Carragher went on to reference after the Reds’ League Cup exit.
“Sturridge is not the player to run in behind, so you can forget about him replacing [Sadio] Mane. All he does is come to feet now,” he continued.
“The only reason to have Sturridge in the team is for his finishing ability. You’ve basically got to put things on a plate for him.”
Sturridge remains a formidable prospect in front of goal, despite his glaring miss at Anfield on Wednesday night.
But that he is now unable to operate as an off-the-shoulder striker is alarming.
With much of Klopp’s focus on distance covered and the speed of transition, Sturridge presents a poor fit, and this is likely to see his opportunities continue to diminish on Merseyside.