The focus of the Premier League right now is “the SAS”. A partnership between two fantastic football players. Luis Suárez: the aggressor, the tormentor, the joker in the pack. Daniel Sturridge: the graceful, the powerful, the machine. Two strikers who shouldn’t compliment each other, dovetailing like they’ve played together all their lives. There aren’t many better in Europe right now and Liverpool are on the verge of being considered a decent side again, somebody must have something to say about this? The Reds tackle Arsène Wenger’s table topping Arsenal next week and they couldn’t be heading to the Emirates in higher spirits after thrashing West Brom 4-1 with a beautiful show of how to run your own goal of the month competition which heralded their return to second position in the Premier League table.
Liverpool could not have started in faster fashion, blitzing West Brom in a devastating first 20 minute spell that showed off many of the qualities that Liverpool possessed when they were regulars in the Champions League – start fast, grab a couple of goals and set the crowd and the tempo alight. Liverpool were near enough out of sight when Luis Suárez slid on his knees towards the Anfield Road End in the 17th minute – following the second goal of a glorious hat trick. Suárez’s first, as described by West Brom manager Steve Clarke, “came from nothing”. He was right. The Uruguayan’s first goal was all about individual brilliance as the striker latched onto Kolo Touré’s pass and strode nonchalantly past Claudio Yacob before nutmegging Jonas Olsson and slotting low to Myhill’s right hand side. Suárez seems to do these things as easily as reporters write about them – we push keys and watch as words form on our screens. It’d be a good bet that Suárez finds the actual thing just as easy to execute.
If Suárez’s first was individually brilliant then his second was a wonder goal contained within a very good Liverpool move. Lucas, Sturridge, Cissokho and Suárez all combined before the striker headed home past Myhill to make it two goals with just over a quarter of an hour played. Many will read about this game and many will question how good a headed goal can actually be. Watch the goal and see for yourself. Suárez underhit his pass out to the left flank and Cissokho could only slide and hope the cross found a target, Liverpool’s front man found himself on the edge of the box with a split second to decide how to keep the move alive. He improvised and headed home from fully eighteen yards to leave almost everyone inside Anfield completely dumbfounded but elated at the same time. The ball whistled towards the top corner in the same way that an outside of the foot shot would with the ball curving inwards from outside the upright. It was truly a unique moment of improvisation and Liverpool deservedly lead 2-0.
The diminutive striker then completed his hat trick with just over 50 minutes played. A gorgeous Steven Gerrard free kick was launched into the West Brom box from the left hand side – the ball landing just where Suárez needed it to land. The striker sent a looping header into the far corner before Myhill could even react – former Evertonian Victor Anichebe looked forlorn as he abandoned his defensive duties and left Suárez completely unmarked. There was time for Daniel Sturridge to crash a curling effort against the bar before West Brom won a controversial penalty after the Baggies’ adventurous right back, Billy Jones, sprinted at the Liverpool defence only to be met cleanly by a Lucas Leiva tackle. The referee waved play on but the assistant had other ideas, much to the dismay of the Anfield faithful as James Morrison duly blasted the ball home.
West Brom had just started to build up some momentum when Daniel Sturridge finally put his name into the hat for the goal of the month award, as he deliciously chipped Myhill from the edge of the box after receiving the ball midway inside West Brom’s half and shrugging off the efforts of Mulumbu. The angle at which the ball dropped into Myhill’s net was perfect and it emphasised that this Liverpool team were playing their best football of the season. Suárez, clearly miffed at having his earlier goal beaten for quality, attempted an audacious overhead kick which crashed against the cross bar after a smart one handed save from the tired looking Myhill.
The game entered stoppage time with a serenading and powerful “You’ll Never Walk Alone” ringing around the ground as the feel good factor seemed to blow back into Anfield like a breath of crisp mountain air. This was a performance far beyond those that Liverpool had produced so far this season, the Reds dominated from start to finish and pressed West Brom’s players into countless mistakes. Although Suárez and Sturridge will dominate the headlines, there should percentages of praise dished out to some of Liverpool’s other players. Jordan Henderson ran himself into the ground with a typically hard working display that was typified as the midfielder was seen to still be pressing during stoppage time as he forced West Brom towards their own corner flag. Lucas Leiva also delivered his best display of the season following the birth of his second child last weekend. Steven Gerrard continued to show just why we all regard him as a “top, top player”. Liverpool’s three man defence also looked much more stable than it did during last weekend’s trip to Newcastle with Martin Škrtel seeming reborn after a turbulent 2012/2013 season.
However, it is Suárez who should take most of the accolades and he was deservedly named Man of the Match after the game. All in all a good performance by the Reds and a solid haul of three points. West Brom shouldn’t be too hard on themselves – not many teams could have lived with Liverpool on this occasion.
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