By Alex Stevens
Martin Keown has questioned whether Daniel Sturridge is an authentic spearhead in the wake of his underwhelming display against Manchester United on Monday night.
The England international was recalled to the starting XI due to Adam Lallana not being fully fit and failed to offer a genuine threat to the United defence.
Sturridge, 27, was replaced by Lallana at the hour mark and the substitution immediately made Liverpool a greater attacking threat.
Speaking as a pundit on BBC’s Match of the Day 2, Keown’s reservations over Sturridge’s ability to lead the line were amplified after another rusty display.
“With Sturridge now, we’ve seen it in an England shirt and we’ve seen it again tonight. Is he really an out and out centre forward?
“The runs that he is making are very difficult to pick up (for his own players). His movement has to be better and he has to retain possession.
“He was losing the ball far too easily, he’s coming deeper now. If I’m playing against him I’m delighted with that.”
Keown explained how much more effective Jurgen Klopp’s team became when Lallana was introduced to the attack, which allowed both Roberto Firmino and Philipe Coutinho to be pushed further forward.
“Liverpool were an awful lot better when they brought Adam Lallana on and pushed (Roberto) Firmino further forward,” Keown added to Match of the Day 2. “Things started to happen.
“Firmino takes players out of position, and he wants to get on the back of people. He has been a revelation.”
Sturridge, who is yet to complete a game for Liverpool this season, was not alone in under-performing as Jose Mourinho’s side dug deep to grind out a point in what was a generally dour match.
The Spanish goalkeeper did extremely well to stop Emre Can’s low effort and saved acrobatically from Philippe Coutinho as the visitors left with a point despite 35 per cent possession – the lowest they have had in a Premier League game since 2003.
The draw means that Jurgen Klopp’s side remain fourth in the table although they are only two points behind leaders Manchester City.
By contrast, United are in seventh and five points behind Pep Guardiola’s pacesetters.