Who would have thought that Daniel Sturridge’s return from injury would have caused Brendan Rodgers such a problem? But it has.
After a season plagued by injuries, most recently a hip problem that required surgery, Daniel Sturridge has finally returned to full-training, as reported by The Guardian.
Whilst Liverpool have most certainly not returned to the irrepressible attacking football of the 2013-14 season, of which Sturridge played a key part with 24 goals, Rodgers appears to have finally found a balance to a team that has seemed so lopsided for so long.
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Formation change again?
A starting place for Sturridge in the 4-3-3 formation Rodgers has favoured so far this season is therefore by no means a foregone conclusion.
Firmino, Coutinho and Benteke formed the attack against Arsenal on Monday night and were a potent threat, only to be thwarted by the brilliance of Petr Cech and the odd wasteful finish.
All three of these players were also crucial in implementing Rodgers’ tactics of defending from the front, with Coutinho adding a robustness to his game that Firmino and Benteke already possess.
Sturridge on the other hand, is less willing to track back, and does not have the physical presence of Benteke to provide an outlet ball that proved so vital in relieving the pressure on Monday night.
Where will he fit in?
Despite Sturridge spending his most successful season at Liverpool largely on the wing, this was only made possible by Luis Suarez, whose pace, trickery and positional flexiblity allowed Sturridge to roam freely around the box.
Although certainly not one-dimensional, Benteke must be used as a central striker for his talent to be utilised most effectively.
This leaves Sturridge to play either as a second striker, requiring a change of formation that could disrupt the defensive solidity Rodgers has prioritised this season, or force him out wide, a position that frustrated him during his time at Chelsea.
Sturridge may take some time to regain his match fitness and sharpness in front of goal, but his return could provide Liverpool with the cutting edge that could help them achieve the top-four place they so crave.
If Rodgers can solve how to play Benteke and Sturridge together, without nullifying their individual skill, Liverpool will be very successful this season.
Liverpool fans: What would you do with Sturridge if you were in charge of the team? Give us YOUR opinion in the comment box below!