Neil Humphreys: Klopp should keep Sturridge
When he is fit, he is Liverpool's finest finisher
Daniel Sturridge isn't just the most exasperating player to wear a Liverpool jersey.
He's the leading contender for the most infuriating footballer in the English Premier League.
When he's fit, he remains the finest finisher at Juergen Klopp's disposal.
His 35th-minute opener left Liverpool with one foot in the Champions League last night, sending them on their way to a comfortable 4-0 victory at West Ham.
If only he could find a little durability, he could spearhead the Reds' European challenge next season.
Until his trip to the London Stadium, Sturridge hadn't started an EPL game since Jan 2 or completed 90 EPL minutes since May 11 last year.
He didn't last till the final whistle last night either, departing to a standing ovation from away fans in the 86th minute and deservedly so.
When Sturridge plays, he invariably scores. When he reigns, Liverpool pour forward and rip opponents to shreds.
The Englishman needed just 35 minutes to stake his case for sticking around at Anfield next season.
Revelling in a deeper role, Philippe Coutinho collected possession inside his own half and noticed West Ham's back three stepping up. The Brazilian slipped a PlayStation pass from the centre circle towards the Hammers' box.
Unable to quite believe his luck, Sturridge took off like a raging, restless greyhound finally released from its trap.
He cut across the three centre backs to stay onside, broke free, rounded Adrian and rolled the ball into an empty net.
A born finisher, Sturridge's confidence remains peerless when thrown into the penalty-box pressure cooker.
If his fitness matched his fearlessness, Klopp wouldn't be considering selling the fragile forward in the summer.
He'd have a complete striker, rather than an exasperating snowflake.
To accommodate Sturridge and Divock Origi, Klopp opted for an attacking diamond, which would have been a risk considering Liverpool's defensive frailties, if West Ham's weak line-up hadn't been so utterly dreadful.
In goal, Adrian was worked almost as much as his crossbar.
Joel Matip clattered the woodwork with an early, bouncing header as Liverpool assumed control.
Their diamond was a noble attempt to probe West Ham's trio of rather static centre backs, but the formation also underlined the Reds' lack of width and pace.
Similarly, the Hammers had a chance to exploit Liverpool's obvious gaps behind the diamond, but didn't boast the necessary firepower up front.
Fortunately, Coutinho and Sturridge, two authentic gems in Klopp's line-up, took charge of proceedings.
A second goal seemed inevitable against a rancid West Ham side already lucky to share a season with even more abject EPL opposition to spare them relegation.
Georginio Wijnaldum issued a warning when he smashed a strike against the crossbar.
Coutinho turned the lights out at the London Stadium seconds later when he skipped past a couple of claret and blue training cones and guided the ball home in the 58th minute.
The one-side affair swiftly descended into farce just over the hour mark.
Winston Reid went down with a head injury, the referee didn't stop play, but West Ham largely did. They stood and watched as Liverpool counter-attacked and Coutinho knocked in his second.
Origi tapped in a fourth in the 76th minute, walking through West Ham's back four as Liverpool took a huge stride towards the Champions League.
Whether Sturridge will still be around at Anfield next season remains to be seen. He was at least rewarded with a hug from Klopp when he went off.
If he can sustain his form and fitness, he should be rewarded with an extended stay at Anfield.