Cause and effect rarely align themselves so seamlessly, especially in the complex world of English football. In this case, though, the relationship is hard to ignore, and so is the implication.
Luis Suarez, the Uruguayan forward most everyone outside Liverpool loves to hate, scored yet again on Sunday. The goal was his eighth goal in 11 matches, a total that puts him level with Robin van Persie for the league lead.
And more importantly, it was a second-half equalizer that led directly to a positive result for Liverpool.
The result—a 1-1 draw at Chelsea, the club that until a week ago had topped the table all season—might not have been what the red half of Liverpool wanted. Nor is the Reds' position in the table at all satisfactory to their supporters.
As of this writing, Liverpool and Suarez sit 13th in the table, tucked snugly between Tony Pulis' playground bullies from Stoke and Roberto Martinez's schizophrenic Wigan with 12 points from 11 matches.
It's no worse than Brendan Rodgers' men deserve. The Reds have at times played attractive football, but the end result has been too light on goals and, some would argue, too dependent on Suarez.
Others might argue Suarez is all that's keeping Liverpool out of the relegation zone.
The latter argument bears some truth. For proof, look at Suarez's record. Then look at Liverpool's.
For that, credit five goals to Suarez's account—and five points to Liverpool's, courtesy of Suarez.
Against Norwich, Suarez hit a hat trick, and Liverpool won 5-2. In fairness, Suarez did not score the decisive third goal, so he wasn't technically the match winner for Liverpool. But those three goals were the difference in the match, and so was Suarez.
For that, credit Suarez with three more goals and three more points.
What it means is this: With Suarez, Liverpool have scored 14 goals and collected 12 points. Without Suarez, Liverpool would have six goals—and most likely just five points.
That total would put Liverpool in the relegation zone. Think about that for a moment. Without Suarez, one of the most historically successful teams in England might be in a relegation fight.
None of this is meant as an attack on Liverpool. The point here is that Suarez's goals have meant more to his team than any other player. For that, he might be the league's most valuable player.
Not its best, but maybe its most valuable—and almost certainly the most important to his club.
Van Persie's eight goals are an equally impressive total, but by comparison, they've led to six points. The Dutchman has scored winners against Liverpool and Southampton, the latter completing a hat trick.
RvP also contributes a healthy number of assists, but the fact is United have several top-class attacking players in the squad. As the season progresses, it's becoming increasingly clear that Suarez is Liverpool's lone threat.
As he showed again Sunday, Suarez packs a mighty punch.
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