Liverpool are flying in the Premier League – unbeaten since December 21 with 10 wins and three draws to their name – and that momentum is showing no signs of stopping. After winning just six of their opening 16 games it looked like a crashing return back to reality for Brendan Rodgers after coming within a seal’s whisker of lifting the Premier League title. But the Reds manager has got his side back on track – for the most part without their main man, Daniel Sturridge.
The striker missed the guts of four months this season with injury – but 12 minutes into his return against West Ham on January 31, he was back on the scoresheet. It’s fair to say that dancing Danny might not yet be firing on all cylinders, but a Liverpool side in form with a 100 per cent fit Daniel Sturridge still to come is a worrying prospect for the Reds’ top four rivals.
[Handy hint: If you’re struggling to see the stats, click or tap on the image to enlarge it]
The above piece of design wizardry shows Daniel Sturridge’s record in league games for Liverpool, and it is simply staggering. His 34 goals and 11 assists at the club mean that he is directly involved in a Liverpool goal, on average, every 89 minutes in the Premier League. Throw in a 17 per cent conversion rate – a figure that rises to 23 per cent if he gets a shot away inside the area – and it’s clear why Daniel Sturridge is such a threat to opposition defenders.
While he leaves Premier League defenders waking up in cold sweats, he has been the punter’s pal in recent seasons. Last year he was the second-most profitable striker in the division, and despite Luis Suarez’s incredible form in front of goal, Sturridge was 40 per cent more profitable than our nibbling friend. Although injury has prevented him putting too much cash in punter’s pockets this season, the Liverpool striker is the 5/1 favourite to open the scoring against Manchester United at Anfield on Sunday.
Sturridge has two goals in his last four league games against Liverpool’s old foes, and in this fixture last season he scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win for the Reds. As he gets ever closer to full fitness, Sturridge is 6/4 to get on the scoresheet at any time, or it is 3/1 for him to score and Liverpool to take all three points. If you fancy lightning to strike twice, and Sturridge to score in a Liverpool 1-0 win, the scorecast pays a tempting 28/1.
Sky Sports are giving the game the usual slow-motion, dramatic music hype show in their previews, but arguably for good reason. A win for Liverpool puts them above Manchester United and back into the Champions League spots with just eight games remaining. It is Evens for Brendan Rodgers’ men to make the top four, but those odds will shorten considerably if they pick up three points at home to United. With Sturridge returning to his best, and Liverpool on a roll, you wouldn’t put it past them.