Liverpool 2-2 Chelsea: Why Liverpool Can No Longer Defend Luis Suarez After Bite
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The stage was set for an enticing encounter after an enthralling clash earlier in the season. Two teams who had recently forged a newly-grown rivalry battling head-to-head, with former players meeting their previous employers, and even the coaches had previous history with their opponents.
And despite Liverpool and Chelsea failing to produce the spectacle that the viewers were hoping for and with a lack of clear-cut chances for either side combined with some lackluster displays, there was a certain individual who made the headlines yet again.
When Luis Suarez arrived at Liverpool in January 2011 in a £22.8 million deal from Eredivisie giants Ajax, fans and pundits alike applauded the signing as something of a coup, and rightly so.
After all, this was the Uruguay international who had starred at the 2010 World Cup with his country and had blown away the Dutch league with his goal-scoring exploits after three years in Holland.
However, when a club chooses to sign a new player, one would assume that for a fee as large as it was and a club the size of Liverpool, an extensive amount of scouting and background checks are carried out on that player. Sure, whoever went to watch Suarez would have been impressed by his work rate and obvious ability.
But did they choose to ignore his eight-match ban for an alleged bite on his opponent Otman Bakkal just three months before his arrival? Were they right to dismiss this as a one-off incident?
For all of his misdemeanors in his two years in English football, it seemed as if Luis Suarez was finally about to embark on a new chapter in his illustrious career, filled with moments of sheer brilliance while also containing darker times which continue to hang over his shoulders.
After all, he was nominated as the PFA Player of the Year only this week, and it's no surprise given his stunning form this season.
Even in spite of the diving, the handballs and even his general outlook towards his fellow professionals, the club's senior figures and fans can only stand back in awe and admire what is, undeniably, a world class player perform in the famous Liverpool shirt.
Time and time again, they would defend Suarez's actions. Not this time, though.
I'm sad for what happened this afternoon, I apologize Ivanovic and all football world for my inexcusable behaviour. I'm so sorry about it!!— Luis Suarez (@luis16suarez) April 21, 2013
Because what the 26-year-old did to Branislav Ivanovic was simply "indefensible", to quote the player himself, and the club's statement in addition to his tweet seems to reinforce that idea. His manager, Brendan Rodgers, had previously been supportive of the former Groningen forward, but even the Northern Irishman could not condone his actions.
There are certain incidents in football which are ugly, but more importantly, accepted as part of the game. This does include late tackles, accidental elbows and the occasional section of simulation which are unfortunately a part of football.
Biting an opponent, however, reflects an unsettling savage nature about a person. To describe this sort of behavior as cannibalistic is slightly inaccurate; to refer it as borderline insanity is not far from reality.
Whatever was going through Suarez's head when he decided to sink his teeth into the Chelsea defender's arm is a mystery to anybody other than the striker himself. It's probably safe to assume that all viewers who saw the incident were engulfed with shock and complete disbelief about what had unfolded in front of them.
Imagine if it were a court case. Perhaps there would be a defense for Luis Suarez if there was, in fact, an incident to provoke his horrific actions, like a stamp or shirt pulling from Ivanovic. That way he would have a motive, a case that could lead to his punishment being reduced or even a reason to suggest why he would act in such a disgraceful manner.
But there was not.
Ivanovic simply blocked his attempt, and in sheer frustration and anger, the Premier League's top goalscorer opted to sink his teeth into his rival's arm. Simple, yet frighteningly chilling.
Whether the referee did not see it, or the idea that Suarez could simply get away with the bite without incurring immediate punishment is not important. Either way, he did get away with it, and the decision had devastating repercussions for the West London side.
Rafa Benitez questioned why Kevin Friend, who had missed several other incidents in the game where tempers threatened to boil over, awarded six additional minutes when the 90 minutes were up. Despite this, Chelsea looked to have just about survived Liverpool's continuous waves of attacking buildup.
However, the inevitable events that occurred in the seventh minute of stoppage time gave some insight as to why the Blues hate coming to Anfield.
Daniel Sturridge, who left Chelsea to join the Merseyside club in January and scored Liverpool's first goal after coming on from the bench, swung in a dangerous ball into the area in between defenders Ivanovic and David Luiz.
Sure enough, it found the head of Suarez, who crafted his effort goalwards. Chelsea keeper Petr Cech could not react in time to keep it out as the ball bounced into the net to send the Liverpool fans into raptures.
The expressions on the faces of the Chelsea fans and players was one of pure injustice. They had been robbed, and it was the villain Suarez who would have the last laugh.
Not for one second am I saying that if Friend had seen it and sent off Suarez, the result would have stayed at 2-1. If anything, Chelsea were the architects of their own downfall. Their inability to concentrate in the final moments and hold on to victory has been one of the reasons for their lack of success this season.
Nevertheless, the club's players and fans will feel they should have had victory, and to have it taken away in such a cruel fashion is nothing new to them. The fact that Benitez chose not to talk about the incident when others such as Jose Mourinho may feel inclined to would have added to their disappointment.
To have two points snatched away from them by a player of Suarez's nature is a bitter pill to swallow, but to add insult to injury, they are now fighting to secure Champions League qualification after Arsenal and Tottenham both secured victories this weekend.
The only consolation for them would be to see Suarez served with a ban that would see him ruled out of any remaining games this season. But even that may not be enough to sooth the pain Chelsea feel right now.
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