Liverpool: It Would Be The Ultimate Redemption If Suarez Wins The League
Liverpool’s crucial 3-2 win over Manchester City at Anfield last Sunday came at a cost. Daniel Sturridge limped off with a hamstring injury early in the second half and Jordan Henderson earned a three-match ban for a dangerous, laboured tackle on Samir Nasri late in to second half stoppage time. Both players have been instrumental in The Reds’ success this season, and to be without both for the next few fixtures is a huge blow. There is hope that Sturridge may be fit for the Chelsea game next Sunday, but he is almost certainly out of the trip to Carrow Road today.
Of course, at this stage of the season with teams fighting at both ends of the table, nothing can be taken for granted, but if history is any indication, this is the one game Brendan Rodgers could afford to be without Sturridge. Norwich must be sick of the sight of Luis Suarez, who has scored 11 goals in five games against The Canaries, including two consecutive hat-tricks at Carrow Road and a four goal haul at Anfield earlier this season. It’s not just the quantity of goals which is staggering, but the ridiculously high quality of them, too; most of them are worthy contenders for goal of the season compilation.
Suarez’s best form came when Sturridge was sidelined with an ankle injury in December, and with Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho contributing vital goals in recent weeks, the trio should still cause Norwich plenty of problems. The law of averages dictates that he’s due a quiet game against Norwich, though, and considering how many twists and turns there have been this season it might well come tomorrow. If things don’t go to plan, the attacking options on the bench will consist of Victor Moses and Iago Aspas, who hardly strike fear in to the heart of the opposition, which puts in to perspective how well Liverpool have done with such a small squad.
Suarez has not been anywhere near his best over the past month, which sounds ridiculous since he’s scored four goals and created two in the last five games – but if Liverpool are to get over the finish line and capture the most unlikely of Premier League titles, they need Suarez firing on all cylinders for the run in. People would have you believe that Liverpool are a one-man team, but they have won ten consecutive league games - a run dating back to February – in large part due to impressive collective team performances, not just moments of individual brilliance.
Every player will say it’s all about the team, but on a personal level there is plenty of incentive for Suarez to recapture his goalscoring form. As he sits comfortably atop both the Premier League goals and assists charts, he has the chance to break the league’s goalscoring records as well as clean up in the end of the season awards; he’s been by far and away the best player in the country. Alan Shearer shares the goalscoring records for both a 38 and 42 game season: he and Any Cole both managed 34 goals in a 42 game season; and he and Cristiano Ronaldo have both managed 31 goals in a 38 game season.
Currently averaging a goal a game with 29 goals in as many appearances, Suarez still has the opportunity to break both records, although unless he maintains his current rate of goals against Norwich, 34 seems a bit of a stretch considering the circumstances. All those players took penalties, too, something Suarez doesn’t do for Liverpool (if he did he’d be on triple digits for the season, eh guys?). Had he not missed the first six games of the season through suspension it’s highly possible that he would have been close to 40 goals by now, but he – and the club he plays for – never do things the easy way.
There is no need to cover old ground and discuss his past transgressions, but after letting the club down with the Branislav Ivanovic incident last April, and trying to force a move to Arsenal in the summer, it would be the ultimate redemption story if Suarez were to lead Liverpool to glory and end a near quarter of a century wait for that elusive Premier League title. He knows that he is public enemy number one, especially as he stands between England and progression from the group stage in the World Cup this summer, so how sweet it would be if he manages to conquer the league and win Player of the Season, breaking all the records on the way.
But I’d be happy with a 90th minute offside handball winner if you offered it to me now.