Controversial Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez played both the hero and the villain as Liverpool rescued a point against European champions Chelsea on Rafael Benitez’s return to Anfield. The Premier League’s top scorer enjoyed a typically eventful game for the Reds and was at the heart of almost every key incident the Merseyside outfit were involved in during the fixture, therefore there can be little surprise that it was Suarez – and not Benitez – who stole all of the headlines afterwards.
The former Ajax forward is an extremely talented footballer and had it not been for an unnecessary moment of utter madness, Suarez’s reputation as a gifted technician would have been enhanced even further. The Uruguayan has been linked with a number of huge clubs from across the continent, including Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Juventus – and based on the role he played in both of Liverpool’s goals against the Blues, it is easy to see why.
Trailing at half-time, manager Brendan Rodgers replaced the largely anonymous Philippe Coutinho with Daniel Sturridge – and the former Chelsea player took the game by the scruff of the neck to aid Liverpool’s recovery. Within minutes of entering the field of play, Sturridge had set up a Steven Gerrard effort which was saved by Petr Cech and had also managed to strike the post with a stunning shot from distance.
And then he scored. Suarez, who had not been enjoying his best of games in a Liverpool shirt, launched a mesmerising first time ball onto the left foot of Sturridge, who slotted it past Cech. Liverpool were level. Of course, the Uruguayan later found the net himself with just a few seconds of the game remaining. This time, Sturridge’s cross was met by the head of Suarez, who rescued a point in the dying moments.
But the game will not be remembered for the tricky striker’s sublime assist or late, late goal. Instead there were two other events which caught the eye. First, within five minutes of Liverpool’s equaliser, Suarez handled the ball in the area, giving Eden Hazard a chance to put the Blues back in front from the spot.
Some will argue about the Uruguayan’s intention, but many others have noted the history of his troubled hands. Ghana in the 2010 World Cup springs to mind, as does the FA Cup trip to Mansfield earlier this season. Suarez’s poor reputation does not help his cause.
The knives were already out over that incident and when Suarez decided to bite opponent Branislav Ivanovic later on in the game, his reputation sunk to an all-time low. It was an inexplicable moment of seemingly unprovoked rage, but went unpunished by the referee. However, it was never going to escape the attention of the rest of the football world. Both Liverpool and the FA are investigating. Suarez is in trouble once again.
If, as many suggest, this turns out to be his last game in a Liverpool shirt, then it will have summed up his Anfield career almost perfectly – flashes of attacking genius coupled with moments of sheer madness. Should, however, the Merseysiders prevent him from leaving, then Rodgers would do well to seek advice on how to deal with such a temperamental player. While fans will keep their eyes peeled to see how severely Suarez is punished for the incident in the following days, what happens with Suarez in the summer will be even more interesting.
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