QPR 0 Liverpool 3: Lessons as Luis Suárez punishes the Hoops
QPR 0 Liverpool 3: What lessons did we learn as Luis Suárez punished a halpless Hoops side at Lotus Road on Sunday?
Sublime Suárez torments Hill and Nelsen
Brendan Rodgers, who himself missed Liverpool’s trip to Loftus Road after being taken ill, played down concerns over a knock which Luis Suárez picked up in a 3-1 loss to Stoke City. And the 24-year-old certainly showed no signs of stiffness in a scintillating first-half performance at QPR. He relentlessly picked up the ball in front of the Hoops’ centre-half pairing of Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen and looked to take on the ageing pair. With his back to goal, Suárez jinked past Hill before clinically tucking his finish past the outstretched hand of Julio Cesar. A mere five minutes later, the former Ajax man doubled his and the visitor’s tally when he broke into QPR’s box and steered a finish over Cesar at the second attempt. In the 25th minute, Glen Johnson’s buccaneering run resulted in the right-back fizzing a cross towards Suárez, who was lurking at the back post ready to net his hat-trick, but Nelsen’s desperate clearance spared Cesar. The Brazil international rose to the occasion – albeit after conceding three goals – and produced a world-class save shortly after the restart to deny Suárez a third. The Reds forward now has 13 Premier League goals, with eight away from home – more than any other player this season.
QPR lack fighting spirit
While there is undoubted talent in QPR’s squad, Harry Redknapp is in desperate need of warriors if he is to work yet another miracle. The Hoops stand-in captain Nelsen and his defensive partner Hill certainly bring fighting spirit to the west London outfit but the pair were powerless to restrain Suárez’s sheer brilliance. Much of QPR’s hopes of survival now hinge on Adel Taarabt – the 23-year-old couldn’t get a place in Mark Hughes’ first-team just three months ago! The midfielder was not included in Morocco’s squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, prompting the Hoops to release a collective sigh of relief. Taarabt’s moment of genius can win QPR vital matches – like his inspired performance in a 2-1 win against Fulham – but he won’t do it on a consistent basis. Liverpool’s three-man midfield dwarfed Taarabt, who had little influence on Sunday’s game as a result. Redknapp did react to an abject first half by introducing the combative Shaun Derry for Djibril Cisse, allowing Samba Diakite and Stephane Mbia to push further up the pitch. The French striker produced key goals in the back end of last season as QPR avoided the drop but the former Reds man is hopelessly out-of-form and expect the R’s boss to strengthen his attacking options in January. Indeed, Redknapp’s acquisitions – and there subsequent failure or success – will dictate whether the Hoops can complete a great escape.
Sterling’s muted QPR return
With Rodgers reportedly on the verge of completing a swoop for Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, perhaps the best Christmas present for the Liverpool manager was Raheem Sterling’s commitment to the club earlier this month. The 18-year-old penned a long-term deal after scoring once in 18 Premier League appearances in his breakthrough season. Not since the days of Steve McManaman have Reds supporters seen a player who is equally comfortable on either wing, is blessed with pace in abundance, has an eye for the unpredictable and crucially, more often than not, conjures an end product. In addition, Sterling is impressive moving in the opposite direction. He has won 85 per cent of his 32 attempted tackles this season. Rodgers has expressed his concerns over Sterling’s fitness in recent weeks and the England international, returning to his former club Queens Park Rangers, was below par by his already high standards at Loftus Road. Facing the pacey Nedum Onuoha, Sterling was closely monitored and rarely manufactured a yard of space to tee up his team-mates. Sturridge’s arrival will provide Rodgers with a chance to rest the teenager who looks set to be a key part of the club’s future.