The Merseyside derby can often be decided by one moment of magic, inspiration, or indeed luck. If Phil Jagieka hadn’t empowered his inner-Tony Yeboah in the 90th minute at Anfield last season, Liverpool would have picked up all three points. If Kenny Dalglish hadn’t splurged £35m on Andy Carroll, the FA Cup Final 2012 could have gone to Everton. Big games decided by big moments. And the man who could deliver the decisive moment at 1.30pm on Sunday is Super Daniel Sturridge.
Daniel Sturridge may have legs made of Weetabix, but when he’s fit and healthy his record is quite phenomenal. 37 goals in 57 league games for Liverpool, plus 11 assists and a conversion rate of 18.6 per cent. Reds’ fans can only dream of where they could be if they can keep Dancing Danny out of the physio’s room.
Since the start of the 2013/14 season Sturridge has averaged a goal every 118 minutes in the league and racked up a conversion rate of 18 per cent. To put that into some context, take a gander at the following numbers placed by other top Premier League players in that time:
- Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero – A goal every 104 minutes and a conversion rate of 17 per cent
- Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud – A goal every 160 minutes and a conversion rate of 16.4 per cent
- Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney – A goal every 196 minutes and a conversion rate of 15.7 per cent
- Everton’s Romelu Lukaku – A goal every 208 minutes and a conversion rate of 13.1 per cent
Heading into the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park and there is every reason to believe that Sturridge could be the difference. His derby day stats live up to his billing as one of the league’s hottest striker, with three goals in three appearances against the Toffees. Considering he came off the bench in two of those games, you could apply the kind of spin Shane Warne would be jealous off, and say that Sturridge has averaged a goal every 39 minutes against Everton in the last two years. Sturridge is to open the scoring against Liverpool’s nearest and least dearest, and he’s to get his name on the scoresheet at anytime.
Everton fans have every right to be bullish going into Sunday’s clash, particularly after a come-back that put Lazarus to shame, beating West Brom 3-2 on Monday despite being 2-0 down with 35 minutes remaining. Roberto Martinez’s men have lost just once this season – a 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester City – however the recent history of derby days at Goodison Park would have the Gwladys Street End running for cover.
The Toffees have won just three league derby games at home since the turn of the millennium and have won just one of the last eight clashes. To make it worse for Martinez and co. Liverpool have scored two or more goals in 73 per cent of those 15 games and covered the one goal handicap 40 per cent of the time. The trends are hinting at exciting stuff for the neutral, but it looks set to be tough viewing for the blue half of Merseyside, with Liverpool to pick up all three points.
Taking all the stats into account, Liverpool to score two or more goals at looks inviting. They managed just four goals in their opening six league contests, but with Sturridge fit and firing they should be able to find the onion bag more regularly from now on. Everton kept just five clean sheets in 20 games against top half opposition last season, and have conceded five goals in three home games this campaign. Similarly Liverpool to cover the one goal handicap looks like a decent bet at – a punt that would have clicked in three of the last seven derby games at Goodison.
For the more optimistic fan, Liverpool to win 3-1 has the same appeal at as pulling Mila Kunis. Yes, it’s not the most likely thing to happen this weekend, but if it did and you missed your chance you’d be feeling pretty downtrodden on Monday morning. Liverpool have won 3-1 twice at Goodison since 2000 and could make it three times a charm on Sunday afternoon.
If you really are a dreamer then the Daniel Sturridge to score first and Liverpool to win 3-1 scorecast pays out at a monster 75/1, a bet that might be worth a quid alongside your main derby day punts.