It certainly wasn’t a game to be a striker as Liverpool and Manchester United plodded to a sometimes drab scoreless draw at Anfield with opportunities at a premium for the men up top. While his counterpart in Zlatan Ibrahimovic missed a golden chance to break the deadlock, Reds attacker Daniel Sturridge had very little to do before being replaced by Adam Lallana on the hour.
“It was a really difficult game for a striker, the way we played it wasn’t easy to enjoy for a striker,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, empathizing with the 27-year old’s struggles. “In the first half Phil made a brilliant run and wanted to pass to Daniel but Mane was free on the right,” explained the German manager. “We had a really good attitude, the players worked really hard and tried everything, but only with the wrong tools.”
Despite being back to full fitness, the Birmingham born striker has been used sparingly by the Reds with Roberto Firmino preferred in a central role — and last night, you could see why. Following the introduction of Lallana and a shift to the middle for the Brazilian, Liverpool appeared to finally come to life with only the intervention of United shot-stopper David De Gea keeping the scores level. Now, it’s hard to be too harsh on Sturridge considering he spent much of his hour on the pitch isolated, but where Klopp has at least public sympathy for the 27-year old, not everyone shares that opinion.
“This was a massive opportunity for Daniel Sturridge on his 100th appearance for Liverpool. Last week with England against Slovenia he failed to impress,” said Reds legend turned Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher. “At Anfield he found it very difficult to get a touch and when he did it wasn’t always pretty or productive. There was a moment shortly before half-time when he tried to control the ball following a tidy pass from Philippe Coutinho, only for it to trickle into the path of Paul Pogba who darted away from the striker,” added the analyst. “Liverpool’s fans made their frustrations known. There’s a concern that he can’t do what Jurgen Klopp wants. He certainly made life difficult for himself.”