Luis Suarez is Liverpool’s best player, saving Kenny Dalglish’s side from another embarrassing home defeat, scoring the Reds’ only goal in their 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, leaving Liverpool still wondering what’s going in 2012 and how to stop the landslide against even the weakest of opponents.
We’ve already discussed Liverpool’s problems on more than one occasion, with the Carling Cup winners giving us plenty of opportunities to discuss and dissect what seems to be an endless list of faults and mistakes. Bad luck, especially in front of the rivals’ goalkeeper, also comes into play. And Suarez, like the rest of the side, has seen plenty of it.
But Suarez shouldn’t be with only 8 goals in 27 league matches this season. Yes, he got suspended because of the whole Patrice Evra racial slurs and things went south from there. Suarez has always been a diver and complainer. His handball against Ghana in the World Cup may have elevated him to national hero status, but it’s a little bit more controversial around the world, especially a “fair play” kind of league, with that kind of perception, like the Premiership.
There’s no question regarding Suarez’ talent. Has to be one of the top 5 strikers in the world in terms of talent, although his Liverpool scoring record does change that picture a bit. Only 12 goals in 40 league matches doesn’t look like such an impressive number to put on your resume, but his effect on the other players and the rival defenses is more than simply numbers. Until the suspension, or maybe even it started a bit before and we didn’t notice.
Suarez’ bad streak corresponds with Liverpool’s terrible form, and their midfield problems, Dalglish failing to find the right partnerships in the middle of the park since Lucas went down to injury, despite Steven Gerrard’s return. The concentration on cross instead of a ground game while Carroll is on the pitch hurts his effectiveness as well, while Suarez looks like one of the best player in the world when playing for the aggressive yet efficient Uruguayan national side.
The Evra case took his credibility in front of officials to an absolute zero. Not just a cheater who can’t stop complaining and whining, but a racist to boot. Suarez is fouled constantly, but his behavior after each whistle (or non-whistle) against him just increases the antagonism against him. Referees, weak creatures as they are, have a huge problem separating what actually happens in front of their eyes and their pre-match prejudices.
Maybe it’s going a bit too far, but if Liverpool want to be a crossing team, then Suarez needs to be sold. They can even get a profit on him if one of the big fish bite. For Suarez’ sake, a fresh start in Italy or Spain, where he will undoubtedly thrive, might be a great option for him, if not for both sides. It won’t fix Liverpool’s problems, but those are deeper, and influence a lot more people.