Liverpool Focus – Newcastle thrashing banishes doubts of Suarez over-reliance

Liverpool scored six goals in a single Premier League game for the first time since 2009 as the Reds recorded a sensational result away to relegation-threatened Newcastle United. Brendan Rodgers was unable to call upon his top-scorer Luis Suarez, as the Uruguayan had accepted a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic last weekend, however Suarez’s absence did not have a negative effect on Liverpool’s performance.

Goals from Daniel Agger, Daniel Sturridge (2), Jordan Henderson (2) and Fabio Borini secured the huge victory, which leaves Liverpool five points behind bitter rivals Everton in the Premier League table, ahead of the meeting between the two Merseyside clubs next weekend. A win against David Moyes’ side would close that gap to just two points with two games remaining – Liverpool are still very much in the hunt for sixth spot.

Much has been made about Suarez’s behaviour and ban, with some suggesting that the Reds will suffer greatly as a result of the Uruguayan’s actions. In the eyes of many neutrals, Liverpool are simply a one-man team – a side relying heavily on Suarez to single-handedly score goals and win games.

A brief glance at the former Ajax star’s goal count compared to the Reds’ overall tally suggests that there may be an element of truth to this view. Suarez has scored 34% (23) of Liverpool’s 67 goals this season. However, other leading scorers such as Robin van Persie (32%) and Gareth Bale (32%) have also contributed a similar percentage of goals to their side. Are champions Manchester United and top-four hopefuls Tottenham Hotspur also over-reliant on one player?

As poor as Newcastle were on Saturday, Liverpool’s emphatic win suggested that they are not totally reliant on Suarez. There is an argument that the Uruguayan was relied on too heavily in the opening half of the campaign – Borini’s injury meant that Suarez was the only fit senior striker available to Rodgers until the January transfer window.

However, since then, new arrivals Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho have impressed. Sturridge has found the net regularly for Liverpool while Coutinho ran the show for the Reds at the weekend. Throw Steven Gerrard’s encouraging statistics into the mix and a different picture emerges – a picture which includes a handful of faces contributing significantly to Liverpool’s efforts this season.

Of course, the Reds’ latest result does not suggest that life without Suarez for the next nine games, or perhaps even forever, will be easy. Everton will provide a tougher test than an out-of-sorts Newcastle team. However, a 6-0 victory can only ever boost morale and in a week where questions have been asked about Liverpool’s ability to cope without their Uruguayan star, Rodgers’ men answered many of them in one go. The biggest question remaining is whether Suarez will stay or go. Either way, the club will continue to move on.

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