Luis Suarez: Evaluating the Uruguayan's Liverpool Career Thus Far
Though the cold temperatures in the Northwest of England are usually pale in comparison to those north of the Great Circle, the proverbial frost that hit the red half of Merseyside last January upon the news that Fernando Torres was leaving for bluer pastures would have been enough to send shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned veteran of cold.
Having weathered consecutive defeats to Manchester United and Blackpool, Kenny Dalglish would have been relieved to see his star forward bag a brace in a 3-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. Despite being a shadow of his former self, the Spaniard had shown glimpses of brilliance throughout the season, racking up two goals in a 2-0 victory over Chelsea among other things.
Yet for all the optimism that the arrival of Dalglish had brought to Anfield, it was not enough to keep Liverpool's star forward on Merseyside. During an ignominious press conference, Torres said he wanted to go to a "big club" where he could realize his ambitions, stating that he "didn't have time to wait for (Liverpool)." In confirming the all-but-certain rumors surrounding his future, he gave a cold shoulder to the fans that had been so bright and warm even during his darkest of times.
Within a few hours of Torres' departure south, Liverpool brought in two new front-men. Though very different by nature, both players had proved cataclysmic at their old clubs. Both were well-known commodities, known internationally. Each possessed different abilities. One was tabbed a strong "bullish" forward with a hammer of a foot and a penchant for headers. The other known as a smaller, albeit stronger, quick striker dubbed "The Fly" for his omnipresence.
Though Andy Carroll hasn't arguably had enough time to prove himself, Luis Suarez has more than made his presence known in the Premier League.
Who would you take leading the Liverpool line?
It took the Uruguayan just sixteen minutes to find the net in Liverpool's 2-0 home win over Stoke. By the time he found the net again in a win at Sunderland by the same scoreline, Suarez had established himself, traumatizing the Manchester United back line in playing a role in Dirk Kuyt's hat trick in the 3-1 home victory against Liverpool's greatest rivals. Though Suarez didn't score on the day, it is safe to say that Sir Alex Ferguson won't look forward to seeing Liverpool's number 7 on the team sheet in future clashes.
Following his impudent strike against the Black Cats in which he beat Simon Mignolet from a nearly impossible angle, the striker managed a number of superlative performances. After setting up Maxi Rodriguez in a 5-0 rout of Birmingham, he scored his final goal of the season against Newcastle, slotting into an empty net for the last goal in a 3-0 home victory.
Though four goals in 13 Premier League matches isn't exactly characteristic of the archetype of a world-class striker, it certainly couldn't be considered horrible for someone adjusting from the Eredivise of Holland to the English game. Perhaps more important than his goals, Suarez has been singled out for his ubiquitous influence. He terrorizes defenders, constantly running, much like Kuyt.
He also has a knack for attempting and succeeding with the types of tricks that leave even the most skilled of center back bamboozled.
While Torres certainly possessed pace in abundance and flair for the occasion, he wasn't exactly a Kuyt-esque player in terms of work rate. Suarez, however, garnered the infamous Fly nickname from announcer Ian Darke, due to the fact that he simply does not stop buzzing around the pitch. By no means are they the same player, but given the additions of Carroll, Charlie Adam and Stewart Downing, among others, I would say that I would take a more complete team with Suarez than the same side with Torres.
Couple his goal-scoring ability and knowledge of the game with his everlasting energy, and you've got a fly that no net can capture. In fact, he finds the net, rather than the contrary.
This season, Suarez has come straight out the traps. Despite missing a penalty, he found the net in a 1-1 draw with Sunderland. A week later, he scored in a 2-0 triumph at Arsenal, Liverpool's first in eleven years. Following the Merseysiders' 3-1 win at Exeter in the Carling Cup, he sent in an absolute peach of a ball with the outside of his boot, eventually leading to Jordan Henderson's first goal in a victory over Bolton.
If that's not enough, he won the 2011 Copa America Player of the Tournament.
Despite his brilliance, many football fans still think of his well-known handball against Ghana from the 2010 FIFA World Cup, in which he celebrated when Asamoah Gyan's resultant spot kick caromed off the crossbar. While an unfortunate blemish on his record, it's safe to say that Suarez is becoming more known for his style of play rather than his infamous ploy.
As for the rest of the Premier League, watch out. The Fly is out, and he's not going away for a very long time.
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