Liverpool Squad Breakdown: Daniel Sturridge Now The Main Man In Attack

Daniel Sturridge Liverpool DortmundLiverpool lit up the Premier League last season, scoring 101 goals in 38 games — the club’s highest tally since 1895-96.

While many bemoan the loss of league-leading goal scorer Luis Suarez, who was sold to Barcelona during the offseason, there’s a silver lining. Subtract the 31 league goals Suarez scored last season, and Liverpool would have scored 70 in 2013-14. That’s still more than 18 of the 20 league teams scored last season. A lot of firepower remains at Anfield, and Liverpool will score plenty of goals this season.

Daniel Sturridge was the second-highest scorer in the Premier League last season with 21, and he is ready to bear the burden of leading Liverpool’s attack in its biggest games in England and Europe. Sturridge likely will play as a central striker in either a two- or three-forward formation. The 24-year-old has high hopes of improving on his career-high goal tally, which he set last season.

Liverpool also bolstered its attacking options with three signings who are expected to contribute goals and assists, while the continued progression of hot prospects could give the Reds an additional boost.

Let’s look at some of Liverpool’s other attackers below:

Central strikers
While Sturridge is the main man, Rickie Lambert, 32, and Fabio Borini, 23, currently are his able deputies. Either Lambert or Borini will play when Sturridge rests or when manager Brendan Rodgers employs a two-striker system.

Lambert joined Liverpool from Southampton this summer, completing a fairytale return to his boyhood club. Lambert scored 13 goals in 37 games for Southampton last season. If Lambert breaks the double-digit barrier this term, he can call his first season at Anfield a success.

Borini’s situation remains unclear. Sunderland is looking to buy Borini, but his reported reluctance to leave Liverpool and a recent shoulder injury are complicating the transfer. Borini is third in the pecking order for now and should expect to play against minnows or if Sturridge or Lambert suffers an injury.

Liverpool likely will try to sign another striker before the transfer window closes on Aug. 31.

Forwards/Wingers
Liverpool’s cupboard is stocked in the wide areas of the attack. Rodgers often uses a formation with a central striker and wide players on either side who are expected to be effective when attacking and defending.

Philippe Coutinho, 22, and Raheem Sterling, 19, likely will start in Liverpool’s Sunday season opener against Southampton. Rodgers calls Coutinho the “brains” of the team, while Sterling embodies the optimistic spirit of Liverpool’s future. These budding stars also must help replace Suarez’s output with their guile, confidence and ability. If Sterling’s and Coutinho’s progression continue unimpeded this season, Liverpool will remain one of Europe’s most fearsome attacking forces.

Summer signings Adam Lallana, 26, and Lazar Markovic, 20, will fight Coutinho and Sterling for playing time during every step of the campaign.

Lallana earned all-league honors last season at Southampton before joining Liverpool in the summer in a £25 million ($41.2 million) transfer. Lallana suffered a knee injury in late July, which will rule him out for the start of the season, but he should be back on the field in September.

Markovic joined the Reds from Benfica in July after completing a £19.8 million ($34 million) transfer. Markovic is one of Europe’s hottest prospects and he’ll play key roles in the biggest games if he develops into the star many expect him to become.

Suso, 20, and Jordon Ibe, 18, impressed at times during this preseason, but Rodgers might loan the young wingers to another club for all or part of the season. If they remain at Anfield, their first-team chances will come against weak opponents or in the unlikely event they displace one of the four players ahead of them.

Joao Carlos Teixeira, 21, broke into the first team last season. The Portuguese player might spend the season elsewhere on loan.

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of our position-by-position breakdowns on Liverpool’s 2014-15 squad.

Liverpool squad breakdown: Midfielders >>

Liverpool squad breakdown: Defenders >>

Liverpool squad breakdown: Goalkeepers >>

Photo via LiverpoolFC.com

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