Henry Jackson

Feature Writer

Is Luis Suarez masking Liverpool’s flaws?

The Uruguayan is having an absolutely sensational campaign, inspiring Liverpool to a top four challenge, but is the form of the 26-year-old letting other players off the hook? Henry Jackson (@OnFootballTweet) gives his verdict.

STOKE-ON-TRENT, ENGLAND - Sunday, January 12, 2014: Liverpool's Luis Suarez celebrates scoring the fourth goal against from the penalty spot during the Premiership match at the Britannia Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

First things first, Liverpool are having a terrific season and, of course, it’s not all down to Suarez. There have been many terrific team performances, and other individuals have chipped in at crucial times too.

Brendan Rodgers has got his side playing some terrific football, and if they keep churning out the wins a Champions League place will be their’s next season.

Despite this, there can be can no doubting that Liverpool would not be in the position they are without Suarez. Whether it be his goals, assists or general brilliance, he has been sensational. He is on course to be the most prolific scorer in a season in Premier League history. This is despite having missed the first five league games and not scoring any penalties.

Because Suarez has been so influential, there are a number a players not performing to the best of their ability who are being let off the hook. El Pistolero is so good that he is masking flaws within the side at present.

GOALKEEPER and DEFENCE

Simon Mignolet has looked very shaky of late, and his howler against Manchester City cost Liverpool dearly in a game they deserved to get at least a point from. It could be argued that he should have done better with Samuel Eto’o’s opener in the loss to Chelsea too.

The 25-year-old also looked suspect during Sunday’s victory over Stoke, punching tamely a couple of times and failing to keep out Jon Walters’ weak shot. Had Suarez not scored twice and created another, Mignolet may well have been the villain on another day.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 29, 2013: Liverpool's goalkeeper Simon Mignolet is helpless to prevent Chelsea scoring the first equalising goal to level the score at 1-1 during the Premiership match at Stamford Bridge. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There is no doubting the Belgian’s ability, but he is not enjoying an impressive run of form at all at the moment. They often say the form of a goalkeeper influences the form of his defence, and that appears to be the case at Liverpool at the moment.

Glen Johnson is another who, were Suarez not inspiring Liverpool to crucial wins, may well be in the firing line for a huge amount of criticism. The England international has been atrocious since his return from injury, whether it be his dreadful distribution or his general lack of interest.

There seems to be something playing on Johnson’s mind, whether that be the contract talks that stalled earlier in the season, or something else in his private life.

It’s not just Johnson who deserves criticism, however. Defensively Liverpool have not been great at all this season. In fact they have been distinctly average in a lot of games. Under Gerard Houllier and Rafa Benitez, the Reds were always rock solid at the back but sometimes lacking in attacking areas. Under Rodgers they are the opposite.

They have conceded more goals than any of the other top seven sides. Martin Sktel and Kolo Toure have been erratic, Daniel Agger has been bullied at set pieces and Aly Cissokho looks out of his depth. There are too many sloppy goals being conceded, whether it be goals from corners or individual errors from Liverpool players.

Of all the full-backs at the club, only youngster Jon Flanagan has excelled. Even Jose Enrique, out injured for a number of months now, was not consistent enough when he was fit.

MIDFIELD

Although the midfield quartet of Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Lucas and Joe Allen have all been good when they’ve played at different times this season- Henderson has been Liverpool’s best player barring Suarez- they’ve only scored five Premier League goals between them. That is not good enough.

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 15, 2013: Liverpool's Jordan Henderson in action against Tottenham Hotspur's Mossa Dembele during the Premiership match at White Hart Lane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Henderson has just one in 21 league games, while three of Gerrard’s four have been from the penalty spot. While Suarez plays like he is it’s not a problem at all, but it’s if the Uruguayan’s goals dry up that it becomes an issue.

ATTACK

Raheem Sterling has been excellent recently, but still needs to score more, while Philippe Coutinho‘s two goals is a very mediocre return for someone of his ability. The Brazilian needs to be getting double figures every season.

Suarez has scored 22 of the Reds’ 51 league goals, and the worry is that, if he suddenly has a dip form, who is going to step up to the plate? Daniel Sturridge’s return from injury is huge in that respect.

CONCLUSIONS

Last season, Manchester United won the Premier League mainly because of the outstanding performances of Robin van Persie. Without him, Sir Alex Ferguson’s very average squad would never have won the league. The Dutchman is out injured at the moment, and United’s flaws have been exposed. The same thing happened at Barcelona last season without Lionel Messi in the side.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 26, 2013: Liverpool's hat-trick hero is handed the match-ball by goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after the 4-1 victory over West Bromwich Albion during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Although no Reds fan would like to admit it, there is a similar feeling to this with Suarez this season. He is arguably the most in-form player in the world at the moment, and is walking away with all of the Player of the Year awards in England. He is unplayable at present.

As mentioned above, while he continues to play like he currently is, there is no problem. The likes of Mignolet, Johnson and Coutinho will all continue to get away with below par performances because Suarez really is that special. An injury or a dip in form for the Uruguayan may well highlight the flaws within the side hugely, in my opinion.

Liverpool are playing well, and are making excellent progress under Rodgers, but they are far from perfect.

Do you agree with Henry? Are Liverpool too reliant on Suarez? 

 

Freelance football writer with an enormous passion and knowledge for the game. More importantly, LFC fanatic.
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  • Max Paz

    Don’t forget how the midfield gelled in the absence of Gerrard. He is a legend, but clearly Hendo-Allen-Lucas play better together far beyond the sum of their parts. Shame to lose Allen because he offered such intelligence, energy, and balance, while Gerrard’s presence seems to leave Henderson in the shadows. Add to that the leaps and bounds in Sterling’s maturity, as well as the ferocity of Sakho. We have a young squad who are just beginning to intimate their true class.

    Agreed that the full backs are question marks and Coutinho hasn’t been at 100%, but the starting 11 have shown they are anything but mediocre. The CBs have been chop-and-change, but once someone (likely Skrtel) settles with Sakho we should be able to offer Mignolet a bit more stability to work with.

    Without Suarez we have Sturridge and vice versa, and it is unlikely they’ll ever be out simultaneously. Together, they’re monstrous.

  • Anthony Beswick

    Love the comparison to United last year…I really think they only won because the rarest of all rarities…a complete, uninjured season from Van Pursestrings. That’s why I still have belief that we can take it this year.

    The what-if you didn’t examine however, is what if, all of a sudden, all the players you mentioned DO start playing to their potential in tandem with Suarez staying hot? What if they all raise their games to match his inspired and inspiring form? I like to think of that what-if instead :)

  • Poloy

    Not much difference between Mignolet and Reina except we’re scoring more goals now that we actually win the game rather than draw.
    G Johnson’s probably just acting out that his contract has not been renewed, good thing M Kelly is nearly fit.
    We’re reliant on Suarez, of course, but he’s a striker after all, a good chunk of his goals are due to good team play, and a good many others are due to his individual brilliance.
    It’s good that we have Sturridge who is capable of being a game winner if he’s not injured.

  • AlphaJJYNWA

    It’s not just Luis, but the whole front line that is masking our poor defence. Luis doesn’t just score goals by himself…those goals are fashioned from defence AND midfield. Though I’ll bite and say he creates a fair few for himself, the initial passing and setup is from defence and midfield.
    Where we are falling short is from DM to defence…especially our full backs. I think we were better with Flanno at LB because he is more defence-minded than attack, and where GJ shone in the past was his attacking play…his defending was always a bit of a grey area. Now…he has been terrible in both aspects. Cissokho equally so.
    We definitely need a new DM and two new FB’s to really compete for top honours consistently. It is just that simple.

  • SJB

    Suarez isn’t masking Liverpool’s flaws, he’s compensating for them, and Liverpool isn’t alone in having a standout player raise the overall standard of team, there are numerous teams throughout Europe where that is the case, United being just one example with van Persie.

    What are we supposed to do then? Sell Suarez and bring in a player more fitting to the level of the team or sell the rest of the team and bring in replacements more suited to Suarez’s level? Both scenarios are obviously ridiculous. What, in reality, this article has stated is that Suarez plays at a consistently high level, unusually so in fact, whereas the rest of the squad are subject to more normal fluctuations in their levels of injury and form. To measure them against Suarez is hardly measuring like with like, the whole point is that he’s exceptional.

    There are only a handful of teams in Europe, the likes of Bayern, Real and Barcelona, where it can be said that most of the players play at a consistently high level, we know Liverpool aren’t at that level yet so this article has hardly come as a revelation. But we are improving and that is the crucial point to remember.

    • Prince

      No selling to selling luis. They sold bale and brought all those players still can’t duplicate what he did.

  • Prince

    Thats why luis is the highest paid in the team. BR already stated the team is build around Luis so its no coincidence he is on top of his game.

  • BrazilSpirit

    Many many things I disagree with in this article.
    Mignolet’s form is not questionable to the level this article takes it, in my opinion. Were some of his latest games not as perfect as in previous months? Perhaps. But in those same games he saved us on numerous occasions to affect the scoreline as well, and the article only points the opposite. The Chelsea game could have been far less flattering a loss had it not been for some amazing saves by our keeper, and the Stoke game may have not been won after the 2-2, where Mignolet made some great saves to keep it shut while we regained the lead. I think Mignolet is playing great and just needs to eliminate some errors. Never the out of form keeper that this article suggests in my opinion.

    But mainly, the comparison to Utd is so bad. Clearly RVP was instrumental to their title last season, but the catalyst was not RVP, it was Ferguson, and their weaknesses and average squad has been exposed right from the moment Ferguson left and Moyes took charge, way longer before RVP got injured.
    Not everything stated in the article is invalid of course, but to wake up having an idea, and then come up with a dozen of things that can be attached to that idea to make it sound more plausible is not really working. The worse thing is that just because a lot of those things are indeed described as they are, it makes people think the point they are meant to support is supported.

    Suarez is instrumental, like any team’s top player. Liverpool have proved they can still get results without him, but are on another level when he’s playing, and it would be a pity if that wasn’t the case.

  • CARR71

    lets see ?and what do you count as a big signing 10/15 million

  • CARR71

    suarez ibe teixeira and enrique ,if suarez is sold lfcs net spend under kenny will be zero at worse ,plus we will have a decent left back and to of our most promising youngsters ,but feel free to blame kenny for everything

  • ajoy

    thoughtful article.

  • Butragenio

    suarez is the best player that ever played for liverpool. he is also the best player in the world. forget messi or ronaldo. they are super. he is a football god. i am blessed to have seen him wear the liverbird on his chest. long live emperor suarez. and just to think that some mentally challenged supporters (some on this site) wanted him out of the team in summer. how sad some of liverpool supporters are!

  • Butragenio

    If liverpool could only throw in 50m and get a star defender and a star midfielder we would win the pl this year and the next three for sure! long live emperor suarez.

  • fookmyoldboots

    God forbid Suarez getting injured, he’s only 4 & 8 goals behind last two seasons top scorer RVP – 26 and 30 goals respectively and 2 in front of the 2010-11 top scorer Berbatov. Having missed the first 6 games and with 17 more to play. Here’s hoping he breaks the 40 barrier!!

  • TO’H

    He’s really starting to lose the plot now – making deeply offensive remarks on Twitter and insisting he’s done nothing wrong.

    http://lfckopchat.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/jaimie-kanwar-refuses-to-apologise-for-babymong-slur-against-disabled-child/

    Even Kevin Kilbane has said what an utter ignoramus he is

    • CARR71

      i have seen them i tweeted him but no reply ,i do not think he likes it when people prove him wrong sad man is site is going down hill fast ,most of his posters have only ever used his site so they think he knows something about the inside workings at lfc

  • Zinho

    CARR71 doesn’t do names. He only looks at price tags to determine if players are any good. It’s not unexpected though because previous posts in this article expose his lack of knowledge of anything financial. Previous articles just expose his lack of knowledge in general.