Luis Suarez Can Lead Unlikely Top Four Challenge Upon His Liverpool Return
Luis Suarez can help Liverpool make the race for Champions League qualification a six-team battle.
The Reds were not expected to challenge for a top-four spot after a turbulent summer saw Suarez ask to leave Anfield, as reported by the BBC, but with the transfer window drawing to a conclusion it seems he is now staying put.
Their task is no small one, and the usual European contenders will not be easily displaced.
Champions Manchester United possess lethal strike duo Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, and it seems inconceivable they would fail to make the top four despite the loss of Sir Alex Ferguson. Neighbours Manchester City have invested heavily again to the point where they could field two quality starting XIs and have no intention of finishing anywhere other than first.
Chelsea have the Jose Mourinho factor again and nearly upset Champions League holders Bayern Munich in Friday’s Super Cup whilst fellow London club Arsenal have an incredible record of top-four finishes.
And surprise package Tottenham have invested so astutely that they are now stronger than last season regardless of the imminent departure of Gareth Bale, according to the Daily Mail.
So how are Liverpool going to bustle past two of these five to earn a place in the 2013/14 Champions League?
First they must continue to pick up points without their talisman forward Suarez, whose 10-game ban for biting Branislav Ivanovic expires when Liverpool meet United in the League Cup.
Should that happen—and it is by no means guaranteed as a tricky trip to Swansea is sandwiched between home games with champions United and Southampton—they will be in a great position to launch an unlikely bid for Champions League qualification.
Then Suarez must take charge, forming a partnership with Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho as the Reds steamroll their way towards Christmas. Their run of fixtures between the Uruguayan’s return and the festive season is favourable with a visit to the Emirates and the Merseyside derby the only major stumbling blocks between now and mid-December.
Suarez’s 23 league goals couldn’t thrust Liverpool into the top-four mix last season, but Brendan Rodgers has been in charge for a season now, and the squad has adapted to his style of possession football.
The early form of Sturridge and the arrivals of Coutinho and Simon Mignolet have helped strengthen his side, and perhaps most importantly, they have started the season with two 1-0 wins—games that Liverpool in previous years may have drawn 0-0.
The Reds must win their matches against sides outside the projected top six and considerably improve their return of points from matches with their rivals.
Will Liverpool finish in the top four?
Last season they failed to win a single game against the top four, and their only big win came after Tottenham capitulated at Anfield after dominating. It is in those games where Suarez’s trickery in the box, creativity and goals are most desired.
Inevitably there will be games when Liverpool struggle to break down opponents, but in Suarez they boast a world-class striker who can hurt the sides he has been continuously linked with this summer.
With so many teams in the hunt for a top-four spot, it is down to the Reds to capitalise on any slip-ups from their adversaries who have busier schedules due to European competition.
Liverpool are unbeaten in the Premier League since March, and the signs are Rodgers has got his side playing how he wants.
Their best hopes rest on being firmly in the top-four picture by Christmas. If the Reds manage that, then they can go on to upset a couple of England's big guns by poaching their Champions League qualification spots.
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