If there was any question about the level of commitment and professionalism Luis Suarez has, the effort and performance he gave on his return-from-suspension match for Liverpool erased those questions. He’s going to need a match or two to find his bearings again, but it doesn’t seem like too much of a concern, as he wasn’t too far away from scoring on his season debut.
With Suarez on the pitch, Liverpool can live without an extra midfielder to help Steven Gerrard, who suddenly seems to have aged 3 or 4 years in one summer or Lucas Leiva, who has no use in terms of helping the attack.
Suarez can drop deep or carry enough attention with him anywhere he goes, enabling Victor Moses to leave his position on the left again and again, trying to help from the right and middle. Liverpool had plenty of dangerous moments and even enjoyed more possession at Old Trafford which is a rarity for them, but there was something very off with both Suarez and Daniel Sturridge in terms of their decision making when inside the box.
There are plenty of warning signs plastered all over this match, and Liverpool not scoring in two consecutive matches, although that shouldn’t carry on for long. For the second straight time, they conceded a goal from a corner. This time it wasn’t weakness, but a silly and lazy decision made by Jose Enrique to simply stop tracing Chicharito, one of the more dangerous poachers in the game, and allowing him to score the goal.
There was also the fact that it wasn’t Manchester United’s strongest lineup, and still Liverpool found it hard to create clear cut chances, the best of them coming from a diving header by Victor Moses in the second half, and a free kick Luis Suarez took that his the crossbar. Liverpool are confident in their goalkeeper and defense, which shows on the way the team plays, but it sometimes struggles to create goals through organized play because there isn’t enough help from the midfield.
Jordan Henderson remains the only player who doesn’t leave his post from the front six. He’s on the right wing, doing mostly defensive assignments, helping Kolo Toure, and Brendan Rodgers doesn’t move him into the middle at all. While it’s great to have a player with never ending stamina who doesn’t tire out, but Henderson can do a world of good by joining Gerrard in the middle, giving Liverpool a huge edge over opponents.
How to fix that? Give Victor Moses a place on the right, and make Luis Suarez your left winger, who has a free role. Moses doesn’t help out defensively too much anyway, and either Lucas or Gerrard can trace left when Jose Enrqiue has more than he bargained for. However, something tells me Rodgers isn’t a fan of moving Henderson back into his more natural position.
These two consecutive losses aren’t a catastrophe, but they do show that this side has a big problem in the middle of the pitch when it comes to creativity and initiative. Luckily for Brendan Rodgers, once Luis Suarez regains his footing and fitness, he should be good enough to hide that issue most of the time.