Considering their most recent result, Luis Suarez coming back might not be the biggest problem solver Liverpool could have asked for, but it’s hard to believe anyone involved with the club isn’t ecstatic about the return from suspension of their best player.
Playing against Manchester United in the League Cup doesn’t really mean much because it’s the League Cup, but it also means a whole lot due to Liverpool’s falling form since their season-opening win over Stoke City, and because it’s a chance for Suarez to clock some time on the football pitch and get himself match fit for the matches that really matter.
Liverpool have looked bad for most of the season so far. The wins over Aston Villa and Manchester United, the draw with Swansea, the loss to Southampton and even the League Cup win over Notts County. Brendan Rodgers has drifted from his possession football into something more cautious, more defensive but yet incoherent and unbalanced, as the loss to Southampton showed. Luis Suarez won’t solve defensive-line problems or midfield issues, but he creates so many other problems for the opposition it doesn’t really matter.
He certainly comes back into the squad and we’re delighted to have him. It’s been a really difficult time for him in terms of not playing games. But I’ve got to say he’s been fantastic in the way he’s prepared himself over the last few weeks. He’s really champing at the bit now to come back and help the team. So he’ll travel with us and we’ll reflect over the next 24 hours whether he starts or not.
Brendan Rodgers has other things to worry about, and one of them is that he can’t take this match lightly and field a squad filled with youngsters. The other is that his squad isn’t as deep as Manchester United’s so even if he does make changes, they won’t be as effective.
But the return of Luis Suarez means Iago Aspas can get back to the bench. You can’t write a player off after only one month of being on a club, but Aspas isn’t fitting in at the moment, and maybe smaller portions of playing time in different roles than central forward or false nine or whatever it was that he was playing against Southampton will do him, and the club, a world of good.
Suarez is important not just for the United match, but for the rest of the season obviously. It gives Liverpool a world class player with more creativity and “nastiness” than anyone else on this team. As Steven Gerrard continues to slowly age away and become less and less relevant from an attacking point of view, the influence Suarez has on the team and the opposition is needed more than ever before.
It really hurt him, the period he was out. But everyone supported him — the club, the players, the staff. Everyone was right behind him to help his rehabilitation and get his football fitness up, and support him in every way we possibly could, knowing that when he returns, we’ll get the same player back, and I’ve got no doubt that, having been out, he’ll be even hungrier. But his commitment and fight for the cause will still be the same.