The Development of Daniel Sturridge

The nephew of a former Derby County favourite, Daniel Sturridge is blossoming under Owen Coyle at Bolton Wanderers after he moved in loan during the January transfer window.

Since his £3,500,000 move from Manchester City in the summer of 2009, Daniel Sturridge has failed to hold down a place in the Chelsea side.

In his first season as a Blue, he received a Premer League and FA Cup winners medal, but only made 2 starts in the Premier League (11 substitute appearances), finding the net on just 1 occasion.

This season, Sturridge was on course to break Paul Simpson’s Premier League record, when the Derby County player made all 19 of his Premier League appearances in 1996/97 from the substitutes bench. Before moving to Bolton at the turn of the year, the former Manchester City youngster had made all 13 of his Premier League appearances this season as a substitute. The longest league run out he received was 23 minutes in a 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur; coming on for Salomon Kalou. He failed to score.

Carlo Ancelotti did hand a start to Daniel Sturridge in the League Cup (90 minutes in a 4-3 defeat to Newcastle) and the FA Cup (90 minutes in which he scored twice in a 7-0 victory over Ipswich Town).

The Champions League had been a happier experience for Daniel Sturridge this season for Chelsea. He started and scored in their first group game; a 4-1 victory in MSK Zilina, as well as the return fixture, scoring again in a 2-1 victory over the Slovakian side. Sturridge made substitute appearances in 3 other group games; playing a total of 195 minutes and scoring twice in this season’s competition.

Behind Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou in the pecking order at Stamford Bridge, Daniel Sturridge was being used sparingly even before the signing of Fernando Torres at the end of the January transfer window.

Owen Coyle came in to rescue Sturridge’s season by taking him on loan for the remainder. The Chelsea loanee was an instant hit as he came off the bench on his debut on February 2nd to score the only goal of the game at Molineux. He has since started every (8) league game since. He was cup tied for Bolton’s 5-0 FA Cup semi final thrashing at Wembley last week.

Daniel Sturridge scored in his first 4 appearances for Bolton and a brace in their 3-0 home victory versus West Ham two weeks ago. Today he scored the opener in Bolton’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Reebok Stadium, pouncing on Samir Nasri’s goal line block from Gary Cahill’s header. Striker’s instinct.

Daniel Sturridge put in a man of the match performance today before he was substituted with 5 minutes remaining, His replacement Tamir Cohen headed home the 90th minute winner. Whilst on the pitch, Sturridge’s movement was causing the Arsenal defence problems, whilst also played a defence-splitting pass that Lee Chung-Yong failed to convert.

What we’re seeing at Bolton is the Daniel Sturridge that many were hoping to see when he burst onto the scenes at Manchester City; and as a successful England under 21 player.

The biggest mistake Carlo Ancelotti made was playing Sturridge out of position. He was usually used on the wings, either cutting in from the right or trying to make things happen from the left. It wasn’t happening. Ancelotti was wrong to play the striker out wide.

Owen Coyle is playing his loan signing in his natural position and is seeing the benefits of it. Playing in a 4-4-2 formation, Sturridge looks to get onto Kevin Davies’ flick-ons, whilst he also picks up the ball outside the area (example: his first goal versus West Ham) instead of out on the wing. He’d be even more effective with a central midfielder or two in the team that could play him successful through balls game after game. Something that Fernando Torres is lacking at Chelsea.

Sturridge has 7 goals in 9 games. Kevin Davies has the same number, except he’s started all 33 Premier League games for Bolton and has only been substituted twice, both late on in games. Johan Elmander is currently Bolton’s top league goalscorer this season, with 10 goals. Daniel’s uncle Dean once scored 11 Premier League goals in a single season, his debut Premier League season in 1996/97 for Derby County.

Bolton’s next fixture is a trip to Fulham on Wednesday night. They sit in 8th position, 1 point behind Everton.