Who needs Torres when you could have Sturridge?
By Tim Keeble, Soccer Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
One of the biggest headlines from this past weekend's Premiership action was the fact that Chelsea striker Fernando Torres finally scored a goal for his new club.
The 27-year-old was the highest-profile signing in a busy January transfer window, joining an already packed rotation of strikers at Stamford Bridge for the bargain price of $80 million.
But after 732 agonizing minutes of action, the Spaniard finally did it, scoring the second goal in a 3-0 win over West Ham on Saturday after entering the match as a substitute.
Meanwhile, just one day later, on-loan Bolton striker Daniel Sturridge scored the opening goal in a 2-1 Wanderers win over Arsenal, essentially ending the title hopes of the Gunners.
The goal was the seventh for Sturridge in nine league appearances since he joined Owen Coyle's side from Chelsea on the same day that Torres made his move to west London.
The fact that both moves came just hours apart from one another on the final day of the transfer window is ironic, considering the fact that Sturridge's move barely registered on the radar.
But since that time, the 20-year-old Sturridge has emerged as one of the best young strikers in England, combining good pace with a strong ability to finish inside the penalty area.
Daniel Sturridge has emerged
as one of the best young
strikers in England.
His goal against Arsenal on Sunday was certainly not one for the highlight reel, but it showed his effectiveness in front of goal.
Teammate Gary Cahill had his header blocked on the goal line by Arsenal's Samir Nasri, but Sturridge was in the right place at the right time to head the rebound home from a few yards out.
The former Manchester City man has taken little time to settle at Bolton and has formed an effective partnership up top with team captain Kevin Davies, who is a classic target man capable of nodding down long balls for Sturridge to run on to.
Prior to his loan move in January, Sturridge made 13 appearances for Carlo Ancelotti's side, but all 13 came as a substitute, which Sturridge felt made it difficult to find a measure of consistency and put added pressure on him.
"It's a huge club," Sturridge said of Chelsea, "so to not start week in week out and play one game in six or seven there's not only pressure from other people but you put pressure on yourself because you want to do so well, to try and prove that you're good enough to play."
Proving his quality has not been an issue at Bolton, but doing so at Chelsea next season could still prove to be difficult, even though Sturridge is hopeful that his future lies with the Blues.
"I hope [my future is at Chelsea]," he told talkSPORT. "When I go back there I'll have three years left but it's obviously up to the club.
"I'm just enjoying my football at the moment, trying to play regularly, and I want to play regular first-team football.
"If I can play first-team football at Chelsea then great but I don't really want to be on the bench because I enjoy playing from the beginning."
When his loan spell ends at the conclusion of the season, Sturridge will be headed back to Stamford Bridge, where world-class strikers like Torres, Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka await, not to mention Ivory Coast international Salomon Kalou.
So getting regular first-team football, as Sturridge wants, will prove almost impossible unless there is a major shake-up over the summer.
Torres is obviously going nowhere, but it wouldn't be a complete shock to see either Drogba or Anelka move on, which could open up a place for Sturridge.
But more than likely, Sturridge will either have to abandon his hopes of playing at Chelsea in favor of first-team minutes, or settle back into a substitute role.
Based on what we have seen of Sturridge at Bolton over the past few months, let's hope he opts for the former and continues to let his game grow.
Who knows, maybe in five years time it will be Chelsea that comes calling with another $80 million bid, this time with the intent of giving Sturridge all the first-team football he can handle.