For whatever reason, a comfortable win over a relegated bound team turned into a tense affair late for Liverpool at home in Anfield. Luis Suarez, trying too hard to find the goal instead of simply letting the match come to him might have been the biggest proponent of that potential disastrous ending.
It’s been a while since Liverpool have been involved in a title race. Players like Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure have won championships with other clubs, but they’re not a very big part of the current setup, and it seems that the pressure, especially when Liverpool are forced into the favorites role, might be getting to some.
The 2-0 win over Sunderland didn’t produce great football, especially not in the first half. A free kick from Steven Gerrard was enough to give the team the lead, but it actually looked like Luis Suarez was disappointed he wasn’t the one who scored. Being hungry for goals is great, but when it affects future play, it’s better to concentrate on winning than improving your goal tally.
Gerrard becoming a complete defensive midfield has been one of the best moves by Brendan Rodgers this season, but sometimes it looked like Liverpool needed a little bit of energy and spark from behind in this match, especially early in the first half and later in the match, looking a bit sluggish and predictable near the box. Luis Suarez kept looking for goal on his own. Philippe Coutinho, frustrated with being brilliant when it has nothing to do with shooting at goal, was in the same mode. Raheem Sterling would have done much better if he had players around him looking for him instead of improving their statistics.
The funny things was how the players getting nervous and allowing the Sunderland goal affected the crowd, which let the pressure and anxious feeling flow back from it down to the pitch. Rodgers seemed calm at the sidelines, and it was hard to understand how a simple match turned into such a complicated and tense affair in the final minutes. If Jozy Altidore wasn’t such an oaf of a player, Liverpool might be already concentrating on simply staying in the top four, and not fantasizing about beating Manchester City and Chelsea, winning the league as a result.
This title race isn’t only up to Luis Suarez. There’s a lot more than him at Liverpool that will make or break this potential historic moment in the club’s history, possibly coming sooner than the grand plan designed it to be.
But without Suarez playing well, there’s a good chance they can kiss their hopes and dreams goodbye. There is no player quite like him in the Premier League, and there’s really not one thing that completely stops him. The only way to actually take him out of the match is for him to get frustrated enough and focus on himself alone. Suarez is at his best not when looking for goals, but when trying to make others around him better. If Rodgers keeps that in his mind, there might be a happy ending to this surprising run.