Sturridge fails to impress in big chance for Chelsea

Sturridge And Torres

Despite the striker scoring in the 5-4 win over Manchester United, he was wasteful on too many occasions in the final third, and will likely return to the bench as a result.

Chelsea don't really have a striker problem, or at least certainly not a problem of the magnitude that seems to be suggested by some fans, but if they did, Daniel Sturridge does not look the solution.

With Fernando Torres suspended for the League Cup match against Manchester United, Sturridge was given the perfect chance to impress. Although he did eventually get on the scoresheet, his awkwardness in the final third stood in sharp contrast to the slick football being played behind him by Chelsea's attacking midfield.

When you have the likes of Mata, Oscar and Eden Hazard playing behind you, the most grievous error a striker can make is to be greedy. With accomplished finishers in the midfield, the role of the striker has to also be to turn provider, and become a cog in the dynamic attacks started behind him.

Fernando Torres, whilst looking jaded in recent matches, has played this role well this season. His personal returns haven't been astounding, but the amount of goals that Eden Hazard and Juan Mata in particular have been scoring is aided by unselfish play from their striker.

This seems to be something that Sturridge failed to grasp last night. He was profligate in front of goal, but worse than that he wasted those chances when players of Mata's calibre were available for passes. Strikers are frequently told by the press that at the end of the day, they will be judged mostly on the goals they score, but this isn't always true. Sturridge got his goal last night, but has likely harmed his claim to be a regular starter with his overall performance.

Sturridge has a similar problem that Jermain Defoe has had for several years at Spurs. Given limited playing time, the assumption is that only goals will ensure a run in the side. In reality, overly greedy play has often seen Defoe returned to the substitutes bench, and his more team-orientated performances this year has led to a consistent place in the starting eleven.

Sturridge would have done far more for his chances of starting in future if he had displayed more of an understanding with his attacking midfield, and perhaps taken less shots. If Romelu Lukaku returns to Chelsea in January, or if they sign another striker, this kind of performance could well see Sturridge end up further down the pecking order at his club.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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