Expect Suarez to play a withdrawn role off goal-hungry Daniel Sturridge…
When Luis Suarez received a ten match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last year, Liverpool fans simply could not see where their match winning inspiration would come from. Suarez had carried the team throughout the whole season, bagging 30 goals in all competitions, and was undoubtedly the Reds’ focal point and most important player…
In his absence though, Brendan Rodgers’ men have done absolutely brilliantly. From eight games, they have won seven and drawn one – with Daniel Sturridge in particularly blistering form. The 24-year-old England striker has scored 10 goals in this space of time from a central position, and fans are now questioning how the enigmatic Uruguayan will get back in the side, with Liverpool sitting at the top of the league table without his help.
Despite Liverpool’s impressive form – there’s no way a player of Suarez’s calibre will be left out of Rodgers’ line-up when he returns from suspension in two games’ time. The Northern Irish manager though, has the nice problem of trying to accommodate one of the best players in the world into a winning team.
Here’s how we think he’ll go about it:
Against big teams:
There’s no way Sturridge will be ousted from his central role, but luckily for Suarez, he has more than enough ability to have an impact on the game from a deeper position. Sturridge is also much faster than Suarez, so it makes more sense to deploy him further forward than his teammate to give Liverpool an option in behind the opposition defence.
Although Iago Aspas has done quite well, he has nowhere near the level of ability Suarez does, and his spot in the first-team should be sacrificed for the Uruguayan.
Firstly, Rodgers will keep the midfield trio of Gerrard, Lucas and Henderson intact. They did brilliantly in the win over Manchester United, and provide a solid defensive base, but also help the side dominate possession in the middle of the park.
This would allow Liverpool’s two best creative players, Coutinho and Suarez, to interchange positions between the opposition defence and midfield, creating chances for themselves and Sturridge with clever movement and intricate, slick passing.
Against smaller teams:
Against smaller opposition, where Liverpool would expect to dominate possession and the chance count, they should maximise all their attacking options. Gerrard and Lucas will be more than capable of anchoring the midfield and providing cover in defence, which means the hard-working Henderson is surplus to requirements. The Reds should instead use Victor Moses’ pace and dynamism down the right hand hand side.
With Moses sanctioned on the right, Liverpool have much greater width, meaning Suarez and Coutinho can continue to interchange from left and central positions. This XI could also quickly transform into a 4-4-2 with Suarez up alongside Sturridge, or a 4-5-1 when defending, with Suarez dropping deeper into a slightly advanced midfield position.
If Liverpool wanted to kill a game after taking the lead, anyone of the front four could be taken off for a midfielder like Joe Allen or Jordan Henderson, who will help slow the game and maintain possession.
However he chooses to go about it – Rodgers’ Liverpool side look a far more intimidating attacking threat when the reintroduction of Luis Suarez.