Liverpool Focus – Sturridge the saviour despite fitness concerns

Daniel Sturridge was Liverpool’s hero as the in-form striker rescued a crucial point for the Reds against local rivals Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Englishman was not fit enough to start the game, but manager Brendan Rodgers allowed the former Chelsea and Manchester City man to make an appearance with just under 15 minutes to go and with the score tied at 2-2.

The Anfield outfit went behind for the first time in the game a few minutes after Sturridge was introduced but his late header from a Steven Gerrard delivery clinched a 3-3 draw and left Liverpool in second place in the Premier League table.

Given the philosophies of both managers, this promised to be an entertaining game and after just a few minutes of this crunch clash – with goals from Philippe Coutinho and Kevin Mirallas – it became evident that it would be an occasion to enjoy. Both sides have been praised for the attractive style of football they have played this term and there was enough in the derby to suggest that these two teams are likely to remain at the top end of the table for much of the campaign.

However, Liverpool boss Rodgers displayed a level of unhappiness at Sturridge’s lack of fitness following his 90 minutes for England against Germany in the midweek international friendly. The forward did not have a full pre-season thanks to an injury he sustained on international duty in the summer and he has been suffering from minor niggles since the start of the campaign. That he played a full game for Roy Hodgson’s side in a game which meant very little – with questionable fitness – and just days before of a Merseyside derby lacked some responsibility.

Sturridge will, of course, want to book his own place on the flight to Brazil when England travel to the World Cup next summer, but that will largely be dependent on how the striker performs for Liverpool over the course of the season. Rodgers suggested that Sturridge was not fit enough to start for the Reds against Everton and this is perhaps something the Englishman will have to keep in mind when future international friendlies crop up.

Rodgers will also be somewhat concerned by the Reds’ away form. The Anfield side have won just two of the six games they have played on their travels in the top-flight so far this season, a record which will have to improve if they are to stand any chance of challenging for the title.

A trip to Hull City next weekend could hand the Merseyside outfit the chance to claim their first away victory since September, but with visits to Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Chelsea to follow, this promises to be a truly testing festive period for the Reds.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Hull v Liverpool

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