Does his presence unsettle the rest of the side?
Liverpool FC forward Luis Suarez has started the new campaign in decent form but the impact that his presence has on the rest of the side does carry within it the potential to disrupt.
They have become in danger of getting far too over-reliant on him this term, but does he unsettle his team-mates?
It’s clear at the moment given that manager Brendan Rodgers has limited attacking options available at his disposal that Suarez will bear the brunt of the workload up until at least January. With five league goals in eight games, including a hat-trick at Carrow Road against Norwich for the second successive season, there’s no denying that he’s assuming the mantle of the most experienced front-man well.
However, there’s a school of thought emerging which points to the Uruguayan’s selfishness going forward and that while clearly an exceptional player, that this is harming not only his effectiveness but the form of those around him which could then in turn have an impact on results.
A truly telling statistic courtesy of Opta is that Sunderland, spearheaded by Steven Fletcher this term, have mustered 26 shots off target so far this season; Suarez by himself has had a staggering 27. Another is that Liverpool have had 150 shots in total this season in their eight Premier League games so far and Suarez has taken 50 of them alone, with the side hitting the back of the net just 10 times.
While the club’s profligate ways in front of goal are well documented and the weaknesses apparent, it doesn’t help matters much that Suarez is trying to go it alone; he may have assumed the responsibility well in terms of goals, but when it comes to divvying up the chances created, he could do with sharing with his team-mates a little more.
Of course, the natural counter-argument to this is that as by a country mile the most creative, threatening and dangerous player in the side, Suarez often creates most of his chances himself virtually out of nothing and it’s widely-known that he’s not a predatory and clinical finisher, rather a more mercurial, instinctive talent.
His pass through to Raheem Sterling against Reading, setting up the 17-year-old for his first ever senior goal, displayed exactly what Suarez is capable of as a creator and instigator of attacks as opposed to the person in the side whose role it is to finish them. Against Reading he attempted almost half of the team’s dribbles, with 12 out the side’s 25 coming from Suarez.
In the same game, he had ten shots, six of which were off target and three were blocked. It’s his ability to beat a man which stands at the most from the aforementioned stats and he has an unusual style, getting right close to his marker before poking the ball past him using a combination of his acceleration and strength and he’s a deceptively powerful player. In essence, he’s a modern-day Peter Beardsley.
The players either side of Suarez, in the talented duo of Suso and Sterling have shown promising signs early on this campaign but Rodgers will be expected to bring in at least one more attacker in January, after showing a reluctance to recall Andy Carroll from his loan and Fabio Borini’s struggles prior to his foot injury.
It’s fine to constantly harp on about Liverpool being wasteful in front of goal but it seems that little is ever said about why they are. The root problem is rarely ever discussed let alone addressed and Suarez being the main and most obvious culprit, perhaps the fault lies with him, even if he is a superb player on the whole.
He can still be frustratingly inconsistent, often within a few minutes of a sublime piece of skill and his passing can often be woeful. He usually looks dangerous during a match and his movement is superb, but there’s very little end product when compared to how much he sees of the ball.
If Rodgers side are to get the best out of, what on paper, looks like a squad capable of competing for a top six place, then Suarez needs to stop trying his luck from ridiculous angles and instead focus on being more of a team player – that means more than being a willing runner, boasting excellent technique and possessing the ability to beat a man almost at will, and until he realises that, the side will continue to frustrate in front of goal, failing to add the substance that their style deserves.
You can follow me on Twitter @JamesMcManus1