One general consensus from pundits, writers and fans drawing conclusions from Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by Southampton on Saturday is that Luis Suarez’s return to the team couldn’t come soon enough.
The Uruguayan forward is eligible to play for Liverpool on Wednesday night after completing his 10-match band for biting Chelsea‘s Branislav Ivanovic back in April.
It is set up to be explosive. A mid-week League Cup third round tie at arch rivals Manchester United. Add to that United are off the back of a humiliating 4-1 defeat to local rivals Man City and looking for revenge for the Reds’ 1-0 win over them at Anfield earlier this month.
A baptism of fire, if Suarez were indeed to be reborn this week.
But will we see a changed man in the 26-year-old? He hasn’t kicked a ball in English football since scoring a 90th minute equaliser in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea at Anfield last season.
He has though, as this morning’s papers point out, had a lot of time to think over his actions and evaluate himself as a footballer and a man.
Daniel Taylor of the Guardian wonders whether the Suarez that is about to return may have matured a little.
Maybe there will be a greater understanding that he cannot continue undermining his own brilliance at a club that has persistently, sometimes desperately, redrawn the line every time he has crossed it. Or maybe we should just fasten our seatbelts and understand that, at this stage of his professional life, second?guessing Suárez and what he is capable of, both good and bad, is never going to be straightforward.
It’s a great article from Taylor, who also looks at the way Suarez conducted himself during the summer – trying to force through an exit from Anfield, but ultimately being denied.
Now he has been seen singing You’ll Never Walk Alone with his daughter as he watched on at his teammates’ horror show against the Saints at the weekend.
Taylor believes Suarez is such a world class footballer that what he does on the pitch will help any fanbase forgive and forget any actions of disloyalty he may have shown before. He also adds:
Will we ever fully understand him? Probably not. For now, though, he is just probably desperate to get on the pitch again and rid himself of some pent-up frustration. Keep your head down, work hard and concentrate on your football.
But where will Suarez fit into Brendan Rodgers’ line-up and plethora of attacking quality? Former Reds defender Alan Hansen writes for the Telegraph:
In terms of Suârez linking with Daniel Sturridge, I don’t see this as a major issue because the South American can play anywhere across the front line, left or right. In fact, when you watch Suârez play you’re hard pressed to define his position. He has never been an old-fashioned target man and is not a No 10. He basically floats all over the pitch and is most effective when given the freedom to roam wherever he chooses.
Hansen adds that he believes Suarez will play tucked in behind Daniel Sturridge, with the former Chelsea striker continuing to be the focal point of the attack which has seen him notch up 17 goals in his first 22 appearances for the Reds.
Where that leaves Philippe Coutinho on his return from injury… is not a problem we have to deal with right now.
Brendan Rodgers’ pre-Man Utd press conference from Melwood is at 2pm BST today (Monday). Come back to This Is Anfield to hear what the boss had to say.