Daniel Sturridge was given a rare start as Liverpool took on Huddersfield, searching for a win that would pile the pressure on Premier League title rivals Manchester City.
Sturridge was making his first start in the top-flight at Anfield since November 2017 and his first in any competition for the Reds since their FA Cup defeat to Wolves on January 7.
As Liverpool looked to, at least temporarily, go back to the top of the table, Press Association Sport assesses the contribution of the England striker.
Sturridge’s injury problems in recent years have been well documented and his struggles to stay fit have contributed to him falling down the pecking order on Merseyside. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are unquestionably ahead of him and Divock Origi could be as well. But it was a minor knock to Firmino that handed him an opportunity to leave an impression against the already relegated Terriers. Sturridge came in as a like-for-like replacement for the Brazilian as ostensibly the focal point of Liverpool’s attack, with Salah and Mane alongside him.
Salah, Firmino and Mane have struck up one of the most potent strike forces ever seen in the English top-flight and part of the reason for that is because of the seemingly innate understanding they have with one another. Sturridge showed plenty of endeavour, even dropping deep in an attempt to win back the ball, but that often meant he was out of position at crucial moments. The end result was that he was almost a bystander in the first half, perhaps a lack of match sharpness coming to the fore, although his output and positional sense improved after the interval.
53 – A great finish from Sturridge but it’s ruled offside.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 26, 2019
On a blustery night in the north-west, shooting was more of a challenge than it appeared. Sturridge’s first sniff at goal after an anonymous opening half an hour saw him collect the ball and move it on to his preferred left foot before firing over from 25 yards. Sturridge had the ball in the back of the net in front of the Kop end after 54 minutes, getting the final touch to Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross from the right, but the 29-year-old’s night was summed up when the assistant referee’s flag went up for offside.
Sturridge’s contract expires in the summer and it appears as if he is heading for the exit door. This performance will do little to encourage any potential suitors although his rustiness was probably a contributory factor. Perhaps with his future in mind there were one or two instances were Sterling shirked a 50-50 challenge but that is a mere footnote. His evening came to an end when he was substituted in the 73rd minute, making way for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on his long-awaited return from injury.