Liverpool’s 100% start to the season came to an end on Saturday evening as they drew 1-1 with fellow title contenders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have justified the commonly held pre-season belief that they will challenge Manchester City for the top prize in English football this season.
Typically quick-witted and clinical with a new found sense of solidity in defence, Liverpool will certainly have Manchester City feeling concerned as they prepare to travel to Anfield on Sunday afternoon.
City will go into the game as league leaders with Liverpool in close second on goal difference, but if it wasn’t for Daniel Sturridge (valued at £13.5 million by Transfermarkt) then they’d find themselves behind both City and Chelsea.
Indeed, Liverpool pushed and probed for an equaliser at Stamford Bridge last weekend but their luck appeared to be out as a handful of glorious opportunities went begging.
Sturridge, though, was not willing to accept defeat and he took matters into his own hands by firing a delightful long-range effort beyond the outstretched arm of Kepa Arrizabalaga to snatch a deserved point for the visitors in the 89th minute.
The media salivated over a rejuvenated Sturridge in the aftermath of proceedings as he scored his fourth goal of the season from just seven fixtures, provoking fresh speculation regarding his credentials to earn a call-up to the England squad.
And his teammate Virgil van Dijk certainly seems to think his form this season merits a return to international football.
During an interview with The Guardian, Van Dijk claimed: “Before I arrived at Liverpool, I said he was one of the best strikers in the league and he shows it when he’s fit. Of course he is good enough for England. There shouldn’t be any doubt”.
But his praise didn’t stop there as the Holland international went on to label him as a world class talent: “We have a great squad, world-class players, and he’s one of them.”
Whilst Van Dijk’s esteemed praise is only natural on the back of Sturridge’s moment of magic in the capital, there’s no doubt he has gone overboard by describing him as world class.
But putting pedantic categorisation aside, it’s fair to say that Sturridge is beginning to play with the level of quality which made him one of the Premier League’s best once upon a time and praise from Van Dijk is thoroughly justified.
The key now – as is typically the case with Sturridge – is that he remains fit for the remainder of the season and establishes some positive momentum in his career following years of setbacks and intense frustration.
If, against all the odds, Sturridge does indeed remain fit, there is no doubt he will play a key role in Liverpool’s title bid.
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