Pieces On The Board

Working on the night/knight moves. - Chris Brunskill

Now let the great Sturridge-Suarez debate begin.

Now that Daniel Sturridge is all set up at Anfield, an upcoming, assuredly annoying debate will rage. It will start with this F365 article that quotes Rodgers as saying Sturridge will go through the middle when he breaks into the first team (which probably isn't for a bit yet as it won't be the first team out there against Mansfield, if that even takes place, and I would be surprised if he's chucked in the deep end against United for his league debut).

You can see it now. If both Sturridge and Suarez aren't pouring in the goals from the off, there's going to be a lot of knives out about shifting Suarez to accommodate Sturridge, questions of if they shouldn't be switched back, and then a ticking clock about when Sturridge complains about having to go wide again. Boy, I can't wait.

To me, it's just not that big of a question. Yet.

The first is this is a different system and personnel than Sturridge played with at Chelsea. There, when on the wide sides of the front three or the attacking three behind a striker, he was alongside either Drogba or Torres. Both aren't the most mobile, or at least not the kind to take up positions all over the pitch (though Torres frequently came out to the left at Liverpool, not sure what happened there). Chelsea's system called for a central, unwavering striker to occupy defenders and let the three behind rotate around him.

Secondly, Sturridge was never going to get in ahead of Mata, Oscar, or Hazard this year, because what Chelsea did slightly shifted to having more midfield-like players simply swarming everywhere.

At Liverpool, the ideas are different. While there is a central figure and he is supposed to open up things for everyone else, the idea is that he does that through movement instead of presence. While Suarez has been deployed through the middle, that hardly means that's where he's stayed. He shows up on both wings and in midfield, and part of the problem is that when he takes up the positions of others those players haven't consistently filled in the middle for him.

So to me, it didn't really matter if Sturridge was in the middle and Suarez left or vice versa. Because Suarez is going to end up both places throughout a match, and Sturridge was always going to get into the box no matter where he started as well.

But that's where my questions arise. Because no matter where Sturridge is deployed, he's got to be highly mobile and energetic. He can't merely plant himself in the middle at the 18 or penalty spot and wait for it to come to him. I've seen him do it on occasion, but we've also seen a lazy player at times. And that can't happen in this Rodgers system.

If deployed in the middle, will he come out wide to open up room for Suarez and midfield runners? Does he have the touch and vision to maneuver through packed defenses? Or will he just get in Suarez's way at times by not making the runs into space to take defenders away? Even Stewart Downing has been doing that of late. This Liverpool system asks for a lot of unselfishess from its front three at times. Does Sturridge have that? We wonder.

What I don't wonder is what the press will say when it doesn't immediately produce fireworks.

-I was going to do a preview of Sunday's FA Cup tie today, but I'll hold off until tomorrow to see if it's even going to be played. Mansfield's match last weekend was called off due to shitty-pitch (it's an official term now), and with more rain forecast this weekend it's not looking good. While the rest for everyone wouldn't hurt, it would rob of Sturridge of the perfect stage for a debut and some others of a run-out. And the make up would assuredly just make everything more cluttered.

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