Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was smothered by Man Utd, says Phil Thompson
Last Updated: 18/10/16 4:50pm
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge was smothered by Manchester United, says Soccer Saturday pundit Phil Thompson.
The England international cut a frustrated figure for the Reds during a 0-0 draw with their fierce rivals on Monday Night Football, and was eventually replaced by Adam Lallana in the 60th minute.
He touched the ball just once in the opposition box and did not take a shot during his hour on the pitch, touching the ball in total just 22 times.
But former Liverpool captain Thompson believes it was the system rather than Sturridge himself that contributed to the performance as United kept him quiet.
"I thought it was extremely difficult for him to function. I thought he was smothered," the pundit said.
"In a 4-2-3-1, he was isolated up front and it was very difficult to get into the game, with Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly doing a very good number on him.
"It was without a doubt more due to the system than the player. With United defending so deep made it difficult to get into the game.
"There was nowhere for Daniel to run when they defended so deep. I think the compliment was that Jurgen Klopp didn't just change him for Divock Origi, but Roberto Firmino did better in terms of finding the spaces.
"He'll be disappointed because he was taken off so early but it did change things when Lallana came on. I must admit I did not think the first substitution should have been Sturridge coming off and it could have been Emre Can for Lallana, but I suppose it's a toss up between them."
Sturridge has endured an injury-hit few seasons and has failed to replicate his form and partnership with Luis Suarez in the 2013/14 season, and Thompson believes the current Liverpool side could work better without him.
"When everybody is fit, I think the team looks better without Sturridge at the moment," the Soccer Saturday pundit added.
"I think Daniel needs to find a level of consistency in the side to be prove himself as the No. 1 striker again. He's flickered in and out for the side, not being a regular.
"In fairness to him he showed a fantastic attitude, shaking everyone's hand, which might not have been the case a few years ago.
"He doesn't seem to trust his body to go at full pace. Daniel used to be able to really cover the ground with 25-30 yard sprints, so I don't know whether he's not trusting his body.
"It will help him convince himself he can trust his body once he has a long time injury free."