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Why Luis Suarez Bite-Gate Will Ultimately Benefit Liverpool

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 01:  Luis Suarez of Liverpool looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Liverpool and Southampton at Anfield on December 1, 2012 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images)
Chris Brunskill/Getty Images
Mark JonesFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2013

Perhaps it can be taken as some sort of homage to Luis Suarez that the two Liverpool performances since his latest ban have been so Jekyll and Hyde.

The Uruguayan is routinely cited by his teammates and managers as being a pleasant character off the field as well as a good and loyal person to have standing by your side, but then, as we’ve seen too often, that character can change completely when he’s on the pitch in the ruthless pursuit of victory.

In their first game without him at Newcastle, Liverpool were superb. Against Everton they were not.

Where St. James’s Park saw ideas, inventiveness and energy, Anfield witnessed predictability, lethargy and ultimately frustration.

Much of that has to be put down to the nature of Liverpool’s opponents, of course―Everton arrived at the home of their old rivals with a clear plan that they impressively stuck to, whilst Newcastle lost the plot―but they did at least highlight that the Reds have a long way to go if they are to be successful without their talisman, who is just one-fifth of the way through that much-publicised 10-match ban.  

Yet the signs are that those 10 games will be the only ones in which Liverpool will have to do without Suarez.

Public declarations that he intends to stay at Anfield (Metro) will have been music to the ears of Liverpool supporters, and those same fans can now look forward to watching their team in the knowledge that Suarez will be back in it one day soon.

Of course, we can never say "never" in football, but perhaps this period on the sidelines for their star man will ultimately benefit Brendan Rodgers and his Liverpool side.

Already playing their final few weeks of the season without the pressure of chasing anything tangible, the Reds can now look for signs of improvement and confidence in some of the players asked to star in Suarez’s absence.

This already looks to be yet another summer in which the changes at Anfield will be numerous, but perhaps the biggest change will come in the characters of those players already at the club.

Philippe Coutinho, for example, already looks to be a player capable of taking on the mantle of being his side’s key creative force. Daniel Sturridge, although never short of confidence, should thrive upon being installed as the team’s main source of goals.

Similarly, others such as Jordan Henderson and Fabio Borini, sidelined this season through a manager’s tough love and injury’s tough breaks respectively, can look at this as a chance to shine.

Of course, Liverpool would love to have Suarez available for the first six games of next season―any team, despite the frequent protestations about his behaviour, would as well―but perhaps the work put in now will ensure that this isn’t such a problem then.

The expectation is that another forward player will be added to the squad in the summer, and they will also receive a boost knowing that they have an immediate chance to make an impact in the absence of the main man.

So perhaps, as perverse as it sounds, Suarez’s attempts to bite the arm of Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic―a real Mr Hyde act if ever there was one―will help the club in the long run?

The only way it will truly help is if Suarez has learned from this experience and doesn’t even think about doing something as foolish again, but maybe those benefits will be seen elsewhere across a squad still developing and evolving?

Perhaps Liverpool will have more Dr Jekylls as a result.

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