The world of football is talking about just one man on Thursday. Maybe two, but David Moyes would rather not be the second. Luis Suarez is the name on everyone’s lips.
Norwich City must be sick of the sight of the Uruguayan. How can a defence plan to stop such sensational, world-class talent?
Matt Ladson put Suarez’s feat against Norwich in perfect perspective for Bleacher Report on Wednesday night: "This was the equivalent of a perfect score in 10-pin bowling, a 9-dart finish in darts or a 147 in snooker."
Today, football writers are searching for new superlatives to describe him, statisticians are blowing any comparisons with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo out of the water and fans are in awe at the wonder of him.
No doubt his phenomenal start to the season, netting 13 goals in nine appearances, will attract further attention from Europe’s top clubs. The speculation is rising already, per the London Evening Standard.
A world without Suarez seems unimaginable to Liverpool right now. But it is possible and Liverpool have proved it before, albeit in the short term.
End of 2012/13
When Luis Suarez prematurely ended his 2012/13 season with a bite of Branislav Ivanovic’s arm, earning himself a 10-match ban, many feared the worst for the end of Liverpool’s campaign.
What happened, in fact, was Liverpool finding some superb, rejuvenated form. They accumulated 10 points from their final four matches—four more points than their previous four games.
In the game immediately after "bitegate," Liverpool thumped Newcastle United 6-0 at St James’ Park—arguably their best performance of the season.
Five different scorers netted Liverpool’s last 10 goals of the season without Suarez. Daniel Sturridge alone scored five times, including a hat-trick away at Fulham.
Meanwhile, in that time, Liverpool conceded just once—a Dimitar Berbatov header in the 3-1 win at Craven Cottage.
Beginning of 2013/14
With six domestic games left on Suarez’s suspension to start this season, Liverpool played their first five league games without the 26-year-old.
The good form that the Reds closed 2012/13 with continued: With three victories and a draw in their opening four games, Liverpool found themselves at the top of the Premier League.
Yet this time, only five goals were scored and an over-reliance on Sturridge to score was becoming increasingly apparent.
Did not playing in the shadow of Suarez help Liverpool’s players? Was there a relieved mindset to improve team performance?
Was it simply two periods of good form for Liverpool, with Suarez’s absence being irrelevant?
Despite the pleasant end to last season, and the beginning of this one, it’s hard to justify any benefits to Liverpool being without Suarez.
His 17 goals in 2011/12, followed by 30 in 2012/13, according to LFCHistory.net, are not something any club could afford to lose.
Over the course of a season, if Liverpool are to push to the next level—Champions League qualification—they need world-class players at the club. They need Suarez.
The catch is that Suarez needs Champions League football—now. He is far too good for a club not playing among Europe’s elite.
No one could blame Suarez for wanting to leave next summer should Liverpool fail to deliver the golden prize of Champions League qualification.
After previous suspensions and tantrums in the media, this time round Suarez must remember that he is as much a part of that outcome as anyone else at the club.