It’s make or break for Sturridge

by Win Soon

He did very well to recover from his illness in a short period of time. He is a very exciting player, and it’s great for him to be involved in the England squad. He has the ability to play in more than one position. He made it quite public he likes to play as a number nine, but there is competition, which is good, and we will see as the season starts who is going to play.

– Robert Di Matteo

Daniel Sturridge’s time in a Chelsea shirt has reached a crucial juncture. In a squad that has been rejuvenated with a huge influx of young talented players, the player faces the challenge of keeping his first team place which he lost when Andre Villas Boas got fired last season. Under AVB, the forward showed glimpses of his devastating talent which produced 8 goals in 12 games for Bolton.

Who could forget the cheeky back heel finish which he did against Sunderland? Like it or not, the former Manchester City Young Player of the Year has the pace and the eye for goal. Perhaps the only thing missing is his favored number nine position. Even under AVB, Sturridge spent the bulk of his time playing out wide on the right of the front three. AVB reasoned that with Drogba and Torres competing to lead the line for Chelsea, Sturridge’s pace and dribbling ability mimic that of an inverted winger which he used to great success at Porto.

Sturridge excelled at first, but a drastic drop inform eventually made AVB drop him from big games. Opting to use the hardworking Ramires or Miereles instead. When RDM took over, Sturridge was frozen out of the first team completely. Barely making any starts as RDM used Ramires to greater effect. An untimely fall from grace for the player who has been touted as England’s next big thing with 11 goals in 30 appearances last season. 9 of those under AVB.

With the new summer signing of Hazard, Marin and Oscar. Coupled with the emergence of Lucas Piazon, Sturridge faces strong competition if he were to play as an attacking midfielder or winger like under AVB. However it is no secret that Sturridge wants to lead the line at Chelsea, but he faces the challenge of knocking 50 million pound striker Torres out of his starting berth. With Drogba gone and Lukaku on loan to West Brom, the time is now for the Spaniard to find the devastating form he had with Liverpool. His Euro performances have given hope to many fans and whether Sturridge plays or not depends on Torres. Currently, Sturridge is the only alternative centre forward to Torres and that could see a fair number of chances go his way, unless the club decides to push ahead with signing the wealth of Didier Drogba replacements they have been linked with(Cavani, Falcao etc….).

However, if Sturridge were given the chance to impress, would he be able to make the most out of them?

The Englishman is talented and definitely a showman. When on form, his pace can leave defenders trailing and he is comfortable scoring goals. He is a natural centre forward and could definitely grow to be one of the finest English strikers if he irons out his weaknesses.

He has the raw potential, but often lacks in making use of the opportunities he has been given. While he can easily beat a defender, he often fails to decide what to do next. When he played as a winger, it was not common to see Sturridge  run to the byline, or miss the run of a fellow teammate. His crossing ability was also questionable but that is passable offence for someone who is used receiving crosses rather than giving them.

In the games under AVB where he played as a centre forward, Sturridge showed great pace to chase down long balls, and bring them under control with a good first touch. Sadly, he lacked the decisiveness to pull the trigger or play in his other teammates, he would hog the ball too long and see opportunities fade away.

Some may also call him selfish, which is true to a certain extent. However, that label hides the fact that he lacks the vision and the footballing brain to make full use of the teammates around him. When he does choose to be selfish, the results are hardly spectacular. Sometimes it works and he fashions a great chance for himself, most of the time he ruins the play of others around him.

It is no wonder why Roberto Di Matteo refused to trust him with any Champions league appearances but his latest quote does show that all is not over for the Englishman. Di Matteo is definitely into promoting youth with Ryan Betrand’s Champions League debut and Lucas Piazon’s involvement in friendlies for example testaments to that. Whether Sturridge makes it or not next season could be the decisive factor in whether he leaves the club for pastures anew or stays and becomes a legend.

However, despite the many factors that could affect his career, it is still up to the player himself to decide whether he is worth it or not.

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