Over the summer months Luis Suarez put us all through an emotional roller coaster. If he wasn’t asking to leave he was flirting with Arsenal and Real Madrid, citing a £40 million pound buy out clause that didn’t exist and what has turned out to be an imaginary conversation between himself, his agent and Brendan Rodgers over whether he could leave Liverpool if they did not make the Champions League.
If it was bad for us fans then imagine how it was for his team-mates and the staff at Anfield. Captain Steven Gerrard has recently come out and said he would wake up every day in fear that the little Uruguayan would be leaving Anfield that day.
However, that didn’t happen and the club deserve a lot of credit in the way they handled the whole affair. In the interest of fairness it is also worth saying that after it was clear he wouldn’t be leaving Suarez then kept his mouth shut, got on with his training and playing for Uruguay and looked forward to his return.
Not only did he look forward to his return but of course so did the fans.
Liverpool were top of the league, winning games whilst not playing well and things were looking good. Fans, bloggers and pundits alike were curious how he would fit in? Would he be played wide right in a 4-2-3-1? Would Daniel Sturridge be forced out of his preferred main striking role despite having a great goalscoring start to his Liverpool career? Would Luis even start for the first few games back?
Now, whether the injury to Phillipe Coutinho played a part in Brendan Rodgers decision we will never know but Luis Suarez has played up top alongside Daniel Sturridge in the three games he has played since returning from his 10 game suspension in a 3-4-1-2 formation.
All eyes were on Old Trafford as Luis Suarez stepped onto the pitch in a competitive game for Liverpool for the first time since April. It was only natural that there would be an element of rustiness and a lack of match sharpness but it’s a testament to Suarez’s fitness and the work the club has done with him that he was able to play the full 90 minutes in the 1-0 loss that the red men suffered. Suarez reminded us all of how good he can be. His movement was excellent, there were his trademark nutmegs and he smashed the bar with a wonderful free kick in the second half. As well as that there was the link up with Daniel Sturridge, they looked excellent together, as if they had played together every minute of every game so far this season. It was a real reminder to us all of what a truly wonderful footballer he is.
I was very vocal during the summer about Suarez leaving and how I thought that him leaving would not affect Liverpool greatly, it sounds crazy I know but I guess I had forgotten just how good he actually is but within 10 minutes of watching him against United I was excited to see him back in the Liverpool shirt, excited to see him link up with Daniel Sturridge, Victor Moses and Steven Gerrard and excited at the prospect of seeing him running onto through balls from Phillipe Coutinho and looking forward to seeing the SAS running riot against defenders during this Premier League season.
Luckily we did not have to wait long to see him linking up with Sturridge and Gerrard, Liverpool’s next game was away to a Sunderland team who had recently replaced their manager Paolo Di Canio after a terribly poor start to the season. Liverpool themselves were coming off the back of two straight defeats in all competitions. The Stadium of Light has not been a happy hunting ground for the reds, the most famous defeat there being the infamous beach ball goal against them.
However, there was never going to be any chance of that result repeating itself. Suarez and Sturridge were electric. They swarmed all over the Sunderland back four, not giving them a minutes rest. After Sturridge had given Liverpool the lead with a header from Steven Gerrard corner,Gerrard, Sturridge and Suarez linked up brilliantly for Suarez’s first goal back in a red shirt for over 5 months and then Sturridge and Suarez linked up equally as well for Suarez’s second goal.
Luis was left to celebrate the birth of his new son with two goals and a starring role in Liverpool’s return to the top two of the Barclays Premier League.
The next game was a home game against Crystal Palace and a return to Anfield for Suarez. It was also a chance for the Suarez to introduce his new child to the Anfield faithful and he got a wonderful reception. Football is a fickle business and now Luis is back, scoring goals, playing very well and adding an extra dimension to Liverpool’s play the majority of fans are happy to have him back and the trouble caused in the summer seems forgotten.
Luis again scored and delivered and excellent performance. There has been talk of Sturridge and Suarez being the best strike partnership in the Barclays Premier League and the way they have performed so far together it would be hard to disagree. The form so far has led to manager Brendan Rodgers saying the following after the game against Palace “There are not many better in this league. Their movement and understanding was outstanding. They give us a real thrust on the counterattack away from home with their pace and they are clever against teams who defend deep here. They have a telepathic nature and with them anything is possible.” Perhaps that is the reason Rodgers has had the team playing a more counter-attacking style this season or perhaps that is just the way things have had to be done whilst we await the return of two or three first team players.
Whatever the reason, it’s clear to see that the return of Luis Suarez has been great for Liverpool Football Club and I am hopeful that he has learned his lesson and we have seen the last of his disciplinary problems. I also hope that come the January transfer window when the likes of Real Madrid come sniffing around again that Luis comes out and makes it clear that his future is at Anfield and in the red of Liverpool.