It’s a throwback to Tottenham’s preseason last July, and if it weren’t still so raw, it would be almost comical. With the departure of Luis Suarez, Liverpool is scrambling to repair the delicate threads of their lineup, which was so crudely torn apart by the Catalan Club. While Reds fans wonder what to do with their Suarez kits, Brendan Rodgers is wondering if and how he can muster the Kop for another push at the title but with their talisman no longer heading their attack, will Liverpool be able to sustain their dazzling form of last season?
When Barcelona came knocking, it seemed Luis Suarez already had his bags packed and was ready to go. Liverpool also seemed resigned to losing their star striker, as they began scouting for replacements almost immediately. However the question remains if Brendan Rodgers will be ready when August 16 arrives at Anfield.
Drawing parallels with Tottenham’s summer transfers from last July not only makes for interesting journalism, it might actually provide a clue as to whether Liverpool will suffer the same fate.
After Real Madrid snatched up Welsh superstar Gareth Bale, Tottenham were left with a gaping hole in their attack but with a pocketful of cash to try and fill it. Their bounty —over £100m — translated into bringing Erik Lamela, Christian Eriksen, Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Vlad Chiriches, Nacer Chadli and Etienne Capoue to White Hart Lane. There was excitement and expectation among the Londoners that the new recruits would spur them to a top four finish, and a return to Europe’s elite competition.
A year later and two managers gone, the Tottenham experiment didn’t pay off so well. So with the Suarez spiel looming, there is a concern about what life will be like for Liverpool without Luis Suarez.
And there is plenty reason for concern.
In the 38-game season of the Premier League, only Alan Shearer and Cristiano Ronaldo have equalled the scoring feats of Suarez but the Uruguayan’s 31 goals came after missing the first six games, showing why he was at the heart of Liverpool’s title run while it lasted. He collected the FPA and LMA Player of the Year award, and his hat trick against Norwich made him the first ever player to score three hat-tricks against the same club.
There is no doubting Suarez’s superstar status. His presence on the team sheet alone strikes fear into any opposition defense, and his movement on and off the ball gives him attacking opportunities few other strikers can imitate.
But although there is no denying the sentiment, the stats seem to say another story — a story that will comfort Liverpool fans.
When Suarez is on the sidelines, Liverpool have a 64% win ratio, compared to 50% with him in the team. With Suarez missing from the beginning of their last campaign, Liverpool got off to a strong start, winning six and drawing two of their first ten games, showing that they can adjust to life without Suarez.
Another factor worth considering is that Liverpool are no longer a “one-man team” and, unlike Tottenham, have recruited heavily but cleverly.
Adam Lallana and Rickie Lambert will be better off for their World Cup experience, and are coming off solid seasons at Southampton. Emre Can, if he can return strong from injury, appears to be an inspired signing while Lazar Markovic could rival Raheem Sterling for the fastest man at Anfield. Add to that the possibility of signing Divock Origi, and you can see why Brendan Rodgers has showed his astuteness in the transfer window.
Finally, last season, Daniel Sturridge gave the Kop a glimpse of his talent and class even with his partner in crime absent from the pitch. In the first five games of the 2013/2014 season, Sturridge scored 4 goals, showing he has the wares to carry the Liverpool attack.
So what will it be? Another title challenge for Liverpool, or a slippery slope without their Uruguayan superstar? Let us know your thoughts below.