West Bromwich Albion v Chelsea - Premier League

What does Daniel Sturridge bring to Liverpool?

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For the last five months, Liverpool has lived with the mistakes of the summer transfer window. Their lack of depth at striker has left manager Brendan Rodgers little recourse but to experiment with the likes of Jonjo Shelvey at center forward when Luis Suárez was unavailable to be run into the ground.

That the Shelvey proxy worked during a win West Ham doesn’t overshadow the fact that a precarious August gambit allowing Andy Carroll to leave (on loan to Upton Park) has handcuffed the squad. Relying on Clint Dempsey’s acquisition (and then, undervaluing the former-Fulham, now-Spurs attacker in the summer window) compounded the inanity.

Today Liverpool acted quickly to rectify the situation, completing the most predictable move of the winter window. The Reds have signed 23-year-old Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. Others have placed the price in the neighborhood of $19.5 million (£12 million).

Given Chelsea paid around $10.5 million of the former Manchester City attacker, it’s a nice bit of business for somebody still largely unproved in the Premier League.

Sturridge can play wide but prefers being deployed through the middle. Under ideal circumstances, he could play with in or place of Suárez, though describing him as a complement would be generous. The knock on the infrequent England international is his teamwork, his inability to create for others making a comparison to Theo Walcott applicable beyond the duo’s identical age, similar positional preferences (and uses), and goal scoring output.

While Sturridge had a strong first half of 2011-12 under André Villas-Boas, he was one of the first players to lose his spot under Roberto Di Matteo. Rafa Benítez has failed to restore him to the starting XI, though Chelsea’s newfound depth (having acquired Eden Hazard, Oscar, and Victor Moses) and Sturridge’s impending departure were likely bigger factors than the player’s skill set.

Like Walcott, there are still questions whether he will be a reliable goal scorer, though (also like Walcott) a change may be necessary to bring out that potential. For the Arsenal man, a long-pined for move to the middle seems to have sparked his output. For Sturridge, relocating west may do the trick.

The price is unconfirmed, but if it is £12 million, Liverpool’s paying a Three Lions tariff. Sturridge would only be able to command two-thirds of that were he born outside England (or, perhaps, Great Britain). Another player who’d spent the better part of six seasons deflating expectations would be seen as a project, not an eight-figure buy. Given Sturridge was lured to Chelsea on reasonably high wages in the first place, this deal may still prove costly after the player’s settled on Mersey.

If the price is lower, the Sturridge signing becomes a reasonable move. He’s a talented player that fits a need. Moving into Brendan Rodgers’ system, Sturridge may be forced to develop the parts of his game that have, to this point, kept him from making the impact expected when he left Eastlands.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

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Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

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Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.