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Who Drops Out For Suarez ?
Time flies by and I can’t believe the eight match ban on Luis Suarez is up. I feared Liverpool would suffer because of his ban with so many important matches played during that period. But it just shows you that no player is bigger than the club and life goes on with or without certain players. I am not saying that Suarez wasn’t missed, any team losing a player of his calibre is going to be poorer because of his absence. But Liverpool came through this run of difficult fixtures very well, highlighted by earning a trip to Wembley in the Carling Cup Final and also knocking out Manchester United in the FA Cup.
But Liverpool will welcome Suarez back into the team as he is such an exceptional player and gives the team such an attacking threat. Suarez will be raring to go and be desperate to get back into action for Liverpool. But I’m sure the break will have done him good and gave him a good rest, but at the same time made him hungry to get back.
The team has been playing really well without Suarez, and Kenny Dalglish will have to decide who he is going to leave out of the team. The likes of Craig Bellamy have really stepped up to the plate and more recently Dirk Kuyt and Andy Carroll have found some good form. Craig Bellamy in particular has been superb and has weighed in with some very important goals. Andy Carroll has looked a much better player in the last two matches against Manchester United and Wolves respectively. Dirk Kuyt has found his scoring touch in the last two games. So it will be very unlucky for the player that gives way to Suarez.
In some of the tougher fixtures this season Dalglish has opted to just play the one striker and you would think he would play Suarez if this was the case, so there could be some disappointed strikers. But this highlights the strength of Liverpool’s squad now and shows the competition for places which is great for the team, it also shows why Dalglish wasn’t active in the January transfer window.
I do think that in most of the games Dalglish will play with two strikers, so who will he play alongside Suarez ?
Craig Bellamy can play wide and up front, but his knees restrict his game time, so I’m afraid he won’t play as often as he has in recent weeks and will probably come off the bench more with his pace being a danger for opposing teams in the latter stages of games.
Dirk Kuyt has not featured much this season and I think he will struggle to get a game again with Suarez returning. Kuyt also plays a lot down the right side of midfield and I think he does a very effective job here, but with the number of midfielders in the squad he has struggled to get many games there too, with the likes of Jordan Henderson playing there quite a lot when he is not in the middle.
Andy Carroll looks the best bet to partner Suarez when Dalglish plays two up front, Dalglish has shown patience with the big man and in recent games it seems like his patience is being rewarded by his performances. Carroll has looked much sharper and stronger and has being holding the ball up far better and linking up with team mates far better. I like the way he has started to win more balls in the air and using his strength to outmuscle defenders. Not so long ago he looked to go down far too easily under a challenge and would then berate the referee when a fouls wasn’t given, but recently he has looked less frustrated and just got on with the game. Suarez and Carroll have played together before quite a few times , but the partnership is still young and it will look a whole lot better with a confident Carroll complimenting the lively Suarez.
Suarez will have to repay Dalglish and the supporters with his performances and his behaviour on the park as everybody at the club have shown great support towards him in this difficult time. It has been an awkward time for the striker and the club and everybody connected will be glad to put it behind them. But Suarez will have to watch his conduct on the field as his every move will be scrutinised by the vultures we call the media in this country. Suarez has been a constant victim since his arrival in this country from being a “diver” to being a “racist” and he has to learn that he can’t give the media anything to thrive on. But I’m sure everyone at Liverpool will have been giving him great advice to help him.
I am just looking forward to seeing Suarez back in the Liverpool team and terrorising defences again. I think his return will also be a timely reminder of the attacking threat he poses and his return alongside Gerrard’s recent return could spur Liverpool on to a successful end the season.