Five reasons why Liverpool can cope without Luis SuÃ¡rez
With Luis SuÃ¡rez set to face a lengthy spell on the sidelines, Kieran Beckles examines how Liverpool can cope without him
Liverpool’s Luis SuÃ¡rez was handed an eight-match ban and a £40,000 fine by the Football Association after being found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra on Tuesday.
It leaves Kenny Dalglish with a selection dilemma as the Liverpool manager prepares for eight league games without their Uruguayan talisman. Here are five options available to the Liverpool boss:
The return of captain marvel
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has spent the most of the year sidelined as the 31-year-old struggled to overcome a series of debilitating injuries which have threatened to bring the midfielder’s career to a premature end. In the absence the skipper, SuÃ¡rez has taken over the mantle as the focal point of the Dalglish’s side – and the Uruguayan’s flashes of brilliance have provided inspiration for the rest of the team. With SuÃ¡rez out of contention for eight games, pending an appeal, Kenny Dalglish will be eager to see Gerrard return and assume his role as Liverpool’s creative force in the centre of midfield.
A chance for Liverpool’s big No9 to shine
Dalglish shelled out £35m to secure Andy Carroll’s signature, making the 22-year-old the most expensive British footballer of all-time. The price tag, and subsequent weight of expectation, appear to have proven too much for the England international so far and he has struggled to make an impact. Carroll’s supporters will point to the fact Dalglish has not handed the former Newcastle United striker a sustained run in the first-team, and with Suarez unavailable for selection, Carroll will have the chance to justify his hefty transfer fee and lay claim for a regular starting spot.
Mr Reliable: Dirk Kuyt
Since arriving from the Eredivisie in 2005, Dirk Kuyt has been a constant member of the Liverpool first-team. But the popular Dutch forward has found it difficult to hold down a regular place in Dalglish’s side this season. He has started just nine league games is yet to score for the Reds this term. However, the former Feyenoord forward has built his reputation in the Premier League on scoring important goals and with SuÃ¡rez absent, Kuyt’s contribution will be vital as Liverpool look to secure European football for next season.
Hat-trick King Maxi RodrÃguez
The former AtlÃ©tico Madrid Madrid skipper has enjoyed a mixed spell in English football. Originally branded as one of Rafael BenÃtez’s failed signings, Dalglish has procured the best from the Argentine attacking midfielder, who bagged an impressive seven goals in just four appearances at the back-end of last season, including two hat-tricks. And although RodrÃguez cannot fill the void left by SuÃ¡rez up front, Dalglish may opt to deploy Carroll as the central striker with Craig Bellamy, Kuyt or Maxi RodrÃguez completing a three-man offensive line.
The January transfer window
SuÃ¡rez’s trickery and movement have thrilled Liverpool supporters since his move from Ajax last January, but the 24-year-old lacks a compatible strike partner to act as a fold to the Uruguayan’s creativity. With the forward facing an eight-match ban, Dalglish may be tempted to purchase a proven finisher in the imminent transfer window. A proposed move, however unlikely it was anyway, for Barcelona’s David Villa will not happen following the Spanish striker’s leg break last week, while unfounded reports that Liverpool want to bring Fernando Torres back to Merseyside appear wide of the mark as Chelsea manager AndrÃ© Villas-Boas insisted the 27-year-old’s future belongs at Stamford Bridge. However, expect Dalglish to bring in more forward options in January.