With the arrival of Daniel Sturridge at Liverpool, manager Brendan Rodgers has outlined his plans to play him in his preferred position as a central striker, ahead of Luis Suarez who will likely move to the wing.
Whilst there’s no doubt the Reds were in desperate need of more fire-power up front, I had assumed that any incoming forwards would be brought in to support and or cover for Suarez, not dislodge him from his current role.
I have few doubts that in the long run Sturridge can and will develop in to a top centre-forward and he certainly needed to leave Chelsea to do that but is he ready to spear-head Liverpool’s attack?
Assuming he is, theoretically, surely having Suarez there on the team sheet next to him is only going to add to the already immense pressure of performing consistently at the highest level and, more than anything else, finishing every attacking move that Rodger’s new system creates.
Suarez gets all the plaudits and rightly so for his 18 goals so far this season – almost quadruple the tally of any other player in the team. He, like Robin van Persie at Manchester United who, in my estimation is the only other striker of that calibre in the Premier League at present, needs the minimum amount of space, the minimum amount of time and the fewest chances on goal to produce a finish.
The same, however, cannot yet be said of Daniel Sturridge – there is no doubting his quality and potential but the quantities of those are still somewhat unknown. He needs to grow in to the role of centre-forward – in the same way that both Suarez and van Persie learned their craft on the wing. Sturridge may feel he’s paid his dues on the wing and that may be valid but surely if he’s paid his dues on the flanks then Suarez definitely has.
Suarez has two years of experience on Sturridge – he’s far more technically developed and he is in peak form. Rodgers has said,
“Daniel's best position is as a central striker, and I think the best role for him will be straight through the middle, with his pace. Where will Luis play then? He'll play for the common good of the team.”
It would seem the manager intends to move Suarez – perhaps he’ll play him just behind Sturridge in the trequartista role that Wayne Rooney now operates in at United? That, to me, makes more sense than deploying him on the wing, especially now with the emergence of Raheem Sterling and Jose Enrique.
Suarez, like Rooney, could be best utilized playing just behind the striker – in this case Sturridge or perhaps even Fabio Borini when he returns from injury. In that position, Suarez can take a large portion of the creative burden off Steven Gerrard and Joe Allen in the centre of their midfield and he can also become the ideal provider for Sturridge, whilst still being given the freedom to get in the box himself.
On the wing, there’s no doubt Suarez has performed sensationally, terrorizing full-backs and pulling inside off the wing to devastating effect but goals win games, not dribbling demonstrations and Liverpool cannot afford at this stage in what has been a difficult season to in any way jeopardize the form, confidence and efficiency of their best player by a mile.
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