If people thought that the shenanigans of the summer transfer window in addition to missing the start of the season would affect Liverpool’s Uruguayan mastermind, they couldn’t be further away from the truth. In the past week, with performances that have almost single-handedly destroyed both Norwich and West Ham, you could argue that he has never been in better form in his life. Let me reintroduce to you, arguably the Premier League’s best player, Luis Suarez.
The English top division is undoubtedly filled with many talented players and young starlets. The attraction to play for teams in the Premier League is why many “marquee” foreign players have made the journey to England to earn their living. That being said, there are a few names that can also be put into the “World-class” category. Suarez is definitely in that category but what he brings to the table is something different to the others. His ability to leave people in awe and constant admiration for his dazzling displays, even after all of the controversies he has been involved in during his time at Liverpool, shows just how great and vital he is for the team and for the Premier League itself.
When having a player labelled “World-class”, one important aspect that needs to be considered is consistency. The most talented players are able to perform week in, week out, season in, season out. Players such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta have been performing at the highest level on a consistent basis for many years now which is why they are rated as highly as they are. When arriving at Liverpool in January 2010, he managed 4 goals in 13 appearances, scoring on his debut against Stoke. This doesn’t sound amazing but Liverpool fans could sense straight away that there was something special about their new signing. Having replaced the departed Fernando Torres, Suarez had big shoes to fill and in his first full season at the Reds showed glimpses of the amazing talent he possesses, although some would say he had not been clinical enough in front of goal. In the last two seasons however, he has shown the how prolific, magical, and consistent he can be when he walks onto the pitch having notched up 37 goals and 7 assists since the start of last season. Having missed the first six games of the current season, he has still managed to score 14 goals with 2 assists in only 10 games. That is a goal every 64.1 minutes, which is the best within the top 5 European leagues, ahead of the likes of Ronaldo (72 mins), Diego Costa (82.6 mins) and the Premier League’s other form striker, Aguero (89.7).
Performance Vs Norwich
It was an all-round disappointing performance against Hull City a week or so ago, in which Suarez found himself isolated up front with very little assistance in the final third from his team-mates. It was one of only two games this season in which he has not been involved in either a goal or an assist. If the defeat helped motivate Suarez even more, it sure did the trick with a display against Norwich that could be ranked as one of the best individual performances the PL has ever seen. It was by no means a scintillating display from Liverpool nor was it a bad performance by Norwich City, it was just the case that whatever happened, no one could stop Luis Suarez from doing what he does best. The Canaries must be sick of the sight of Suarez as he has now scored an astonishing 11 goals against them in 4 games, becoming the first player to score three hat-tricks against one club.
If we look at Suarez’s shot breakdown for the match, we can see that it was one of those nights where everything turned into gold for the Uruguayan. Overall he had 6 out of his 7 shots on target, giving him a shot accuracy of 86%, with 3 outside of the box as well as 4 inside showing how deadly he can be from anywhere in the opposition half. The difficulty around defending against someone like Suarez is that he is not your typical striker who will be in the box time and time again. With the ability to drift into wide positions, drop into the number 10 role as well as play the lead striker, he is often a nightmare for defenders with his clever movement and capability to drive at opponents with trickery resulting in success more times than not.
From his attacking dashboard you can see that he was successful in most of his work during the match and played with the confidence of a man who knows that he can be unstoppable on his day. During the game, he attempted 9 take-ons, which is customary part of Suarez’s play with his neat dribbling and close ball control and was successful during 4 of those occasions, one of which led to the third goal.
It would not be right if I didn’t mention the calibre of goals scored within this match. The sheer audacity of the strikes left many gobsmacked and astonished and with individual performances such as this few and far between, it was definitely something to savour. Normally I would attempt to describe the goals in detail but on this occasion I don’t feel it would do them justice so instead I will leave the goals for you to view for yourselves below.
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”” cite=”Brendan Rodgers after the Norwich City game” quotestyle=”style02″] I haven’t seen many individual performances as good as that. It was sheer brilliance. It was a joy for me to watch the team tonight. I thought technically we were very good. To witness that individual performance was remarkable. I always like to talk about the team but I think you have to give it up to Luis tonight. He is one of the best strikers in the world and that is an incredible performance. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]
Performance Vs West Ham
Three days after the thumping of Norwich, Liverpool entertained West Ham with the Hammers boss Sam Allardyce praising Suarez’s performance and admitting that his side had to be on top form if they had any chance of stopping him. In the same fixture last season, James Collins was given the role of man-marking Luis Suarez and was highly successful in keeping the striker quiet and earned himself rave reviews in the process. Collins had also been given the same role for this match and did well to some extent but with the form of Suarez at the moment, even defenders playing well against is not enough to stop the player having an influence on the game.
This match showed another side of Suarez’s play, consisting of more link-up play with the midfielders, such as the likes of Gerrard and especially Coutinho who produced a sterling performance himself, thriving in the role just behind the striker and dictating play for his team-mates to attack. There were a total of 21 passes played forward to Suarez from both Coutinho and Gerrard and illustrates the movement of Suarez and how his determination and work ethic to get into various positions helps not only his team-mates but also keeps defenders anticipating different positions where he may make a run towards which he can then use to his advantage. Steven Gerrard’s passes to Suarez particularly display Suarez’s complex movement with passes played into the middle of the pitch, wide areas and also into the opposition box.
Luis was again influential within in the goals department by scoring one and playing a part in two more. It is hard to spot a weakness in Suarez’s finishing as he is capable of scoring whether it be from long range, in front of goal, from a free-kick, penalties, left foot and right foot. This time it was his heading abilities which were on display with a great header at the far post following an excellent cross from Glen Johnson. With the first half looking to end goalless after being frustrated by the West Ham defence, it was again Suarez who helped ensure they would go into the break a goal ahead with a shot across the box which was diverted in by Guy Demel. Liverpool’s fourth was a similar case with Suarez showing the defender onto his left foot before shifting the ball back onto his right for a drive towards goal, only to have Joey O’Brien deflect the shot into his own net. West Ham, like Norwich, did not perform too badly as well but it was going to take something monumental to stop Suarez on this form.
Can he handle the pressure?
Liverpool have started the season relatively well without being particularly outstanding so far, currently sitting second in the league. One aspect that they will be grateful for is the diverse nature of their two strikers, Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. Sturridge has been ruled out for up to 8 weeks which is a big blow, but was able to lead the line sufficiently whilst Suarez was serving his ban, scoring winners in each of his first three games. Once Suarez returned, they both struck up a great understanding and were able to score goals freely as well as set up chances for one another. Now with only Suarez available, like Sturridge, he is showing that he is more than capable of being the main striker for the team. However, with injuries for key men such as Gerrard (possibly out for six weeks) and maybe also Jordan Henderson, it puts more pressure on the likes of Suarez and Coutinho to provide the attacking prowess for the team to thrive upon. With important games against the likes Spurs, Man City and Chelsea all away from home, both players will need to be on top form in order to continue the current good form into the New Year.
The Premier League’s best player?
Manuel Pellegrini stated last week that in his opinion Sergio Aguero was a better player than Suarez. The term “World-class” is thrown around quite often nowadays but not many people can argue that both players are just that, world class. However, in my opinion, Suarez has slightly more to offer and his unpredictable nature makes his performances even more enjoyable to watch. Few players can destroy a team single-handedly at such a high level, but in the last week or so we have seen that Suarez is capable of just that.