Liverpool FC Poll: Who Should Lead the Reds Attack Without Luis Suarez?
Wednesday papers and the official English Premier League website have confirmed that Luis Suarez of Liverpool Football Club will accept a one-match ban for misconduct following the controversial hand gesture that was given to the Fulham fans following the dismissal of Jay Spearing and the Reds' subsequent loss at Craven Cottage on December 5, 2012.
As a club, Liverpool also face a £20,000 fine for the player, which they have disputed but will most likely have to pay. The Uruguayan has been in hot water for the last month over a racism suit brought against him by Manchester United's French international defender Patrice Evra. Suarez has already been issued an eight-match suspension and a £40,000 fine, but it is pending an appeal and official ruling from the English Football Association.
The more important fact of the matter is that Suarez will be unavailable when Newcastle United come to Anfield on Friday afternoon. Andy Carroll's former club will be out to get one over on the Reds as their home form has seen six draws and only three victories. Blackburn Rovers were the latest bottom feeding club to come in and magically walk away with a point.
Without Suarez the Reds face a challenge in creativity without his ball skills and quick thinking up top. Liverpool do have Steven Gerrard back from injury, but a full tilt start may still be too soon as there is no way the Reds want to lose him again so quickly.
With Andy Carroll the only out and out striker in the lineup, it will fall to either Craig Bellamy or Dirk Kuyt to partner him if Kenny Dalglish goes with a 4-4-2 formation. Otherwise you could see a 4-4-1-1 with Bellamy or Gerrard in the hole as the No. 2 striker. I also believe Jonjo Shelvey could be good in that role as well for the first half just to see what he can do after his positive loan spell at Blackpool proved he was a goal scorer and creator.
Who Should Partner in a Two Striker Attack?
Last season Kuyt was the best thing to happen for the Reds in the run-in as the Dutchman ended up leading the team in scoring with 13 goals in the league, nine of them in the last two months of the season when Carroll was not readily available. However, this season Kuyt has been devoid of goals and only has one assist at all to his name.
Craig Bellamy has been inspirational most of the time he has been on the pitch and has two league goals to his name, but he is more of a winger than a primary striker, and he is not often used as a central playmaker.
Carroll has been the subject of criticism since he was purchased for 35 million pounds and handed the No. 9 off Fernando Torres' back. Since then he has had his moments, but they are so few and far between that many fans are calling for his head. If he can score against his old club and help the Reds to victory in the absence of Suarez he might be much more likely to start earning some fans.
But, he has to start putting away chances to earn his keep or he may be making an Anfield exit in much less glamorous fashion than when he arrived.
Steven Gerrard is fresh off an ankle infection but could be forced into making his first start in only his second week back as the Reds will be desperate for creativity up front.
If Carroll is Selected as a Lone Striker Who Should Play in the Attacking Midfield Role?
Jonjo Shelvey has shown he has pace and skill upfront and it could be a great game to see him get a chance to impress if played in the hole in a 4-2-3-1 giving him support from Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam in central midfield and Craig Bellamy and Stewart Downing on the wings.
Henderson lastly could be given a chance to take the attacking midfield spot as Jay Spearing is fresh off his suspension and could partner with Adam in the midfield behind the England U21 international.
Whichever way it plays out, it gives great debate as to how the Reds could, should and will line up against Newcastle on the next to last day of the year.
Both clubs have put on some great shows against one another and it will for sure be a great one to watch on a Friday night.
Check out the match preview for Liverpool and Newcastle United as well as all the weekend's fixtures from Bleacher Report here, English Premier League: Week 19 Previews and Predictions.
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