Such is the circus act that seems to follow Luis Suarez around these days, it sometimes feels relatively easy to lose sight of quite what it is that the Uruguayan can bring to this Liverpool team. Controversy has stalked Suarez like a somewhat permanent acquaintance since his £22.8million move from Ajax in 2011 and this season, we’ve seen more of the same this season.
But when you strip it all away, what we have also seen is an exhibition of a really quite fantastic footballer. Suarez has bagged a superb eight goals in 11 Premier League games, a tally matched only by Manchester United’s Robin van Persie, in a feat that seems even more extraordinary given some of the damning comments thrown his way at the start of the season.
Indeed, in the aftermath of Liverpool’s 3-0 opening day defeat to Steve Clarke’s West Bromwich Albion side, Suarez appeared to have his goal scoring credentials written of in the space of 90 minutes. Both Mark Lawrenson and Gary McAllister were quick to suggest that Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers would be naïve to rely on Suarez to get his side goals this season, with John Aldridge also laying into the South American’s finishing prowess.
Yet the results have been an almost polar opposite, with Liverpool not just being able to rely on Suarez’s goals, as much as they simply couldn’t cope without them. With the injury to their one and only striking deputy in Fabio Borini, the world of the club’s goalscoring hopes have put placed on their number seven’s shoulders. And he hasn’t disappointed.
Although the already gloomily apparent overreliance that Rodgers’ side have come to saddle upon Suarez, has only been hammered home by the Uruguayan’s insistence on proving the critics wrong. It seems like something of a cliché to say that without their top scorer, Liverpool would find themselves in a serious spot of bother. But not only has Suarez scored eight of his side’s 14 Premier League goals, beyond him, there simply isn’t anyone else at present.
And it’s been the bareness of Brendan Rodgers’ striking cupboard that has seen critics continue to cast a series of pessimistic prediction for the Ulsterman’s side this term.
Of course, should Suarez pick up an injury in the coming weeks, Liverpool will be facing the doomsday scenario that will leave them in a real hole of misfortune up front. But with a little bit of luck and a spot of timely investment, there’s no reason why the club can’t wriggle their way out of what is a self-inflicted position of weakness.
Many will be loathsome to even contemplate the prospect of the end of the year just yet, but the facts are that your New Year’s Day hangover isn’t actually that far away at all – a little over six weeks, to be precise. And if you’re a Liverpool fan, you’ll be hoping the best cure to ease the aftermath of your end of year celebrations, will be a shiny new addition to the club’s frontline.
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But it is absolutely imperative that both Brendan Rodgers and the Fenway Sports Group, maneuverer themselves into a position to snap up that striker as soon as possible. There can be none of the hesitation within the transfer market that landed Rodgers in this position in the first place. The club need to ensure that a new striker is blending within the team as soon as is realistically possible.
In the mean time, the men from Merseyside are going to need to a bit of help from an intermediary, one who usually finds themselves as relatively hot property come this time of year. Lady Luck can’t be snapped up on any manner of short-term contract, but Liverpool certainly need a bit of fortune in keeping the electric Luis Suarez fit.
His injury record since joining Anfield has been good, which although it counts for very little, it perhaps offers some form of solace for Liverpool supporters. Saving him from the overtures of the cup competitions would also represent the closest thing to wrapping him up in cotton wool that’s possible, but again, such is the lack of depth in the striking department, Rodgers doesn’t really have any option but to play the Uruguayan.
But as much as Rodgers has now been left awfully exposed as his side rapidly approaches the hectic winter fixture period, he now knows that he at least has a chance to make a measured decision – a far sight away from the untimely, rushed and ultimate dismal failure that was the end of the summer transfer window.
The failure to capture Clint Dempsey was greeted with derision and panic in equal measure from observers, but his performances for Tottenham Hotspur – a team that also operates with a lone frontman under – suggest that even if Suarez does succumb to injury, he would hardly have offered much of a presence up on his own in attack. Let’s not forget, even with the signing of Dempsey, many Spurs supporters consider Jermain Defoe to be their only recognized striker when Emmanuel Adebayor is out with injury. Liverpool aren’t alone.
Regardless of the abject lack of recognized strikers available to Brendan Rodgers past Luis Suarez, Liverpool aren’t the first and they certainly won’t be the last club, to put all of their eggs in the basket of one striker. What matters is what they do to rectify it. The wheels of transfer market thinking must be put into motion inmminetly at Anfield.
Who would you bring in for Liverpool come January? Join me on Twitter: follow @samuel_antrobus and tell me what you think.