By Cody Taylor (@LFCkopite101)
I am going to start off this article with a very blatant statement, I DO BELIEVE SUAREZ HELPED US TREMENDOUSLY LAST SEASON. With that being said, I am going to provide many points to convert even the most pessimistic fans into believers of what we are capable of achieving NOW.
I will start off this discussion with a couple of long points that surprise many people:
Goals Scored – Liverpool were the 3rd highest scoring team in Europe, merely being beaten out by Manchester City and Real Madrid by 1 goal, and 3 goals respectively. If you take away the 31 goals Luis scored, we still would have had 70 league goals. This would be good enough to have seen Liverpool finish 14th in Europe and 3rd in the BPL in goals for. This season we can expect even more as well. I know it sounds crazy expecting around 80-90 goals minus Suarez, but it may not be that far off. We have the likes of Sturridge, Sterling, Coutinho, and Henderson, just to name a few. These players not only are already seasoned BPL players, but they have shown immense improvements in terms of goalscoring and creative abilities. Think about it this way, we have around 70 goals returning this season, but the players are even better this year. That may be over simplifying it, but in the end that is my point. It is very realistic to be in the top 2 in the BPL in goals for. Not bad for a “one man team.” OH YAAAA, WE STILL HAVE THE 2ND HIGHEST SCORER IN THE LEAGUE RETURNING TO US.
Assists/In Game Threat – I will keep this point shorter than the last. Yes Luis did provide many things the stats sheets can’t show; hockey assists, distracting defenders, constant pressure. With this being said, Coutinho and Sterling can now take on the more creative roles in the team. The past year I noticed that almost every attack had to run through Suarez. Now, while in-form, this is definitely a great thing, but it can also hinder a teams ability to find a different outlet to win a game. At times (all the time) we were over reliant on our number 7, but now we will be able to play the game Rodgers wants us to play.
I will now make some quick points that all add to my argument:
-Sturridge will play central (his preferred role)
-Sterling and Coutinho will take on more creative roles
-Henderson has improved his attacking attributes
-All of our players will return improved and hungry being so close to the title last year
-We no longer have to play 2 strikers allowing us to add a player to our midfield
-Our squad overall has improved an incredible amount
-Mignolet seems more vocal in the back and more confident coming out
My favorite thing to hear is this, “You haven’t replaced his goals yet how can you be top 4?” I simply answer like this, “Take his goals away, all 31, add to our defense and midfield like we’ve done, we can score 70 and come top 4 if we concede less.” This usually leaves the other person speechless and lost in his own thought. 70 goals in my opinion is the lowest amount we will score, I am very confident of getting 80 or even 90. Take that many goals and add it to a team that concedes far less because of an improved midfield and defence, and you have a title challenging team being written off by many.
Another point to make is how well we played last year when he was suspended. In fact, our winning percentage without Suarez is 14% higher. We win 64% of the time without Luis compared to 50% of the time with him.
I am aware I may be a bit naive, but when I told my friends we would finish in the top 4 last year, I received the same looks as I am now. I also expect a sort of camaraderie within the camp to take place. I believe this will be occurring because more “team wins” rather than “individual brilliance wins” will occur.
The last bit I would like to leave you is for you to think about. We have an extremely young team, but most of these players are consistent and seasoned players correct? Well think about how much faster young players improve. A team already very good, improving while other teams won’t be to the same extent. THINK ABOUT IT.