It is not that often sports journalists get to comment on one footballer wanting to “knock out” an opposing player, however this week Swansea’s Captain Ashley Williams uttered those exact words when discussing Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
Williams whipped up a storm in midweek when an extract from his book, My Premier League Diary, was published and contained a less-than-glowing testimony of Suarez following the Swans' 0-0 draw at Anfield last season. To add salt to the wound, he went on to voice his opinion that Suarez is a “serial diver.”
So, it would be reasonable to suggest that Williams does not hold the Uruguayan striker in high regard.
He has since apologized for his remarks to current Liverpool, and former Swansea, manager Brendan Rodgers, but this story has added a different dimension to today’s intriguing encounter at the Liberty Stadium.
As much as Liverpool’s hierarchy would prefer the opposite to happen, Suarez cannot stay out of the limelight.
Not a week goes by without Suarez hitting the headlines for one reason or another, and they normally highlight the darker side of his game. Last weekend, we marvelled at his sublime finishing technique against Wigan—but now a fellow Premier League footballer has once again called his integrity into question.
The amount of hatred aimed at Suarez fascinates me, and I wonder how much of it is nothing more than pure jealousy.
There is not a supporter, or a manager, in Europe who would not love to have the Uruguayan in their squad. Though he predictably plays the part of “pantomime villain,” his football talent is undeniable.
I am sure even downhill skiers have always been envious of his unique silky-smooth footwork, but he has now added composed, clinical finishing to his bags of tricks—scoring 10 goals already this season.
This combination means Suarez is quickly becoming the total package—a lethal striker who can propel Liverpool up the EPL table—with only his tarnished reputation stopping him from earning the plaudits he richly deserves.
Williams’ ill-advised comments could come back to haunt him today, with Suarez using them as extra incentive to turn on the style at the Liberty Stadium. This game was always going to have an extra layer of spice with Rodgers and, to a lesser extent, Joe Allen returning to South Wales—but now the focus has shifted to Williams and Suarez.
I hope there is no animosity between the two today, though when Suarez is involved, anything can happen.
Love him or hate him, I would advise against antagonizing him—Williams’ comments could be the catalyst for another Suarez masterclass.