Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Suarez Show

Sturridge who?

Luis Suarez produced the type of mesmerising form last night that thrills Reds’ supporters and allays their fears regarding the fitness of his strike partner Daniel Sturridge. With the magical Uruguayan in such scintillating form, Liverpool will score goals, win matches and pick up points even while the England striker faces a frustratingly lengthy spell on the treatment table over the festive season.

The Canaries, however, must be sick of the sight of Suarez. After conceding eleven goals to the number seven alone in their last four meetings with the Merseysiders, Norwich could be forgiven for abandoning all attempts to take points off Liverpool as long as Suarez stays at Anfield.

In the first half hour, Suarez demonstrated why John Henry and Brendan Rodgers fought so hard in the summer to keep him at the club.

His first goal was a thing of beauty. 40 yards out, nobody expected Suarez to have an attempt on goal, least of all Norwich goalkeeper Ruddy. How wrong they turned out to be! Punishing Ruddy for his seemingly minor positional error, Suarez sent a stunning strike looping over the keeper and into the Kop end net to open the scoring in a spectacular and memorable manner.

Suarez sees goalscoring opportunities that nobody else does
Suarez’s second may not have been as aesthetically appealing, but it revealed the predatory striking instincts that make him feared by defences across the world. Latching onto Gerrard’s clever flick on from Coutinho’s left wing corner, Suarez smashed home from close range to double both his personal tally and Liverpool’s lead.

He went on to net a third and, in doing so, become the first Premier League player ever to score three hat-tricks against the same club, ten minutes before the break, producing arguably his best goal of the night to clinch the match ball. Flicking the ball inventively over Fer, Suarez somehow managed to maintain his balance in order to drill a low strike into the back of the net from the edge of the box.

Suarez celebrates scoring perhaps his best goal of the night
It was a fitting way to cap an exceptional first half performance that the 26-year old will struggle to better for the rest of this season, if not for the rest of his career.

With the outcome of the contest beyond doubt after the first 45 minutes, the second half was simply an opportunity to bolster the Reds’ goal difference and watch more of the magician that is Luis Suarez in action.

After replacing Lucas in the starting line-up, the out-of-form Joe Allen was looking to impress boss Brendan Rodgers to try and win a regular place in the Northern Irishman’s midfield. Just before the hour mark, he sent a fantastic strike from range goalwards, forcing Ruddy to make an excellent save to tip the ball over.

The ability to produce threatening efforts on goal is one of the things that distinguish Allen from his competitor for a place in the starting line-up Lucas. If he can demonstrate a sharper attacking edge than the Brazilian and combine it with defensive competence, as well as matching Lucas’ consistency, the Welshman might just fight his way off the bench and back into contention for a place in the starting eleven.

For his fourth goal 15 minutes from time, Suarez conjured up the type of set piece supporters have become used to seeing him deliver. Curling a stunning free kick around the wall, Suarez left the keeper with no chance, the ball finding the corner of the net with a satisfying sense of inevitability.

Bradley Johnson evaded Agger to head home a consolation for the visitors on 83 minutes, before skipper Steven Gerrard almost got in on the goalscoring fun, cleverly improvising to send an effort against the base of the post after Coutinho had set him up. With only a minute left on the clock, Suarez’s final act was to set up Sterling, who netted Liverpool’s fifth with a neat finish inside the box.

In the dying seconds, Suarez was substituted by Aspas, receiving the raucous standing ovation his display fully merited as he left the pitch and claimed his seat on the bench. Suarez single-handedly transformed what was likely to be a routine midweek home match against struggling Norwich into a night few will forget in a hurry. At the same, he erased the memory of the Reds’ defeat to Hull City from our minds.

Suarez poses with the match ball
With Suarez in this type of form, only a fool would bet against Liverpool breaking into the top four.


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