There’s a chance that the whole summer saga has actually turned Luis Suarez into a better player. Maybe in the back of his mind he hated Brendan Rodgers and still wants to leave Liverpool, but it really doesn’t matter as he scores hat tricks, forms a deadly partnership with Daniel Sturridge and makes the unusual team tactics seem perfectly natural.
It it isn’t just Suarez, who does the work of two players – a striker and anything else you want (winger, attacking midfielder), but Rodgers understanding that in this sort of starting formation, Victor Moses shouldn’t be in the lineup. If he’s intent on using all of his centre backs, with Martin Skrtel, Mamadou Sakho and Kolo Toure, then there is no use for Moses to be playing well out of his position just to fill in the AM spot.
Really no need for that when Steven Gerrard is still playing and is waiting for a chance to shed off some defensive responsibilities. Jordan Henderson will play well in any position he’s given to fill, and being a central midfielder with mostly defensive responsibilities he seems to be at his best, even though he should look a bit less stunned when he to do things a little bit closer to the opponent’s goal.
But Gerrard playing in a role he used to play when Fernando Torres was still at the club was the real revelation, having Lucas and Henderson playing behind him, worrying about scoring and setting up his strikers instead of chasing midfielders.
But the story, how not, is Suarez, with his first Anfield hat trick in the 4-1 win over West Brom. The man who tried to force his way out of the club has now scored six goals in four matches. He hardly dives, he hardly complains. He simply plays well and scores. He might not run at Rodgers to hug him after matches, but he’s responding to whatever his manager has done with him, and is right now playing like the best striker in Europe.
It’s too soon to talk about his future, but a Liverpool in the Champions League might be a lot more appealing for Suarez to stay in. Obviously, all that won’t happen without him, but right now it seems like he’s playing this well either to fulfill that ambition or to simply keep himself highly desirable in the transfer market.
Not all is perfect, especially when it comes to Liverpool’s wing backs. Aly Cissokho might have had his best match for the Reds, also getting an assist, but he’s too easy to beat on defense and too one dimensional with the ball, always drifting left. If you take away the space for him to generate speed, he has nothing to do with the ball. Johnson doesn’t always need space to generate speed, but right now he fails at doing anything that doesn’t involve the simplest of decisions, on both sides of the ball. Maybe it’s still some rust, but Liverpool can’t afford to have him playing in his form.
When Philippe Coutinho returns, we might see less and less of the 3-5-2 and maybe a return to Henderson on the wing. Hard to tell at this point. Maybe Lucas will be sacrificed so Gerrard and Henderson keep playing in the middle behind Coutinho. All in theory right now, as Rodgers prepares for a positive selection headache, but not having to worry about the most guaranteed goal creating duo in the league with Suarez and Sturridge.