The Uruguayan international did not start the game, but received a rapturous reception as he warmed up before kick-off. Fellow new signing Andy Carroll was also paraded in front of the supporters prior to the game and was greeted with a similar response from the Anfield faithful.
This was a match under the previous regime, that Liverpool may well have struggled to cope with, but under Kenny Dalglish this Liverpool side are a different proposition. Dalglish opted to play with three centre backs in Sotoris Kyrgiakos, Martin Skertl and Daniel Agger as he sought to counter Stoke City’s aerial threat.
With a new found confidence and believe flowing through the side, Liverpool dominated the first half, but with minimal threat. Lone striker Dirk Kuyt in particular looked less than clinical in front of goal. Asimir Begovic, the Stoke City goalkeeper, was forced into making one good save to keep out a Glen Johnson header, but the half-time whistle saw the game goalless.
With Liverpool lacking a cutting edge, the supporters would have been forgiven for letting their minds drift towards the departed Fernando Torres, but those thoughts will have been totally dispelled two minutes into the second half. Skipper Steven Gerrard’s shot bounced around the area until finding its way to Raul Meireles. The Portuguese midfielder appears reborn under Dalglish, and unerringly fired home from 12 yards to give Liverpool the lead with his third goal in four games.
Suarez made his entrance on 63 minutes, replacing Fabio Aurelio. He was welcomed to English football by another deafening reception from the Kop, and a good stiff challenge from Andy Wilkinson, who instantly put the Uruguayan on the floor. Suarez though was not deterred and showed some neat touches before administering the coup de gras to Stoke City’s hopes.
His goal came with just 11 minutes to go. Played in by the industrious Kuyt, Suarez neatly rounded Begovic, before stroking the ball goalwards. His effort was slightly under hit, but the back-tracking Wilkinson, the post and no doubt the Kop sucking the ball goalwards combined to see the ball cross the line and give the 24 year old a dream debut.
After the game there was some debate as to whether, the goal was in fact an own goal but manager Dalglish told the press: “It was going in, it’s his goal. I gave it to him! He can have the first goal if he wants too!” he joked.
The win sees Liverpool move into 7th place in the table, a far cry from the position of doom they were in before Dalglish took charge. There has definitely been a change in atmosphere at the club, but they face a severe test on Sunday. A trip to Stamford Bridge is always a tough one, but Chelsea have a fearsome new striker expected to make his debut. Liverpool know all about Fernando Torres. Whether they can stop him could well be the £50M question.