Welcome to the show.
Bromantic already got to it, but the FA decided to spike the football and suspend Luis Suarez another match for greeting the Fulham fans with his social finger. In all honesty, there isn't much dust to be kicked up over this. You can't make obscene gestures on the field to any group of supporters (except if you're David Beckham), especially when on camera. That's always going to get punished. The issue of the FA and press turning Suarez into Public Enemy #1 with every non-Liverpool fan in the country is another issue discussed another day. Either way, Suarez is going to have to learn to deal with being the Super Villain every time he visits another team's ground. Some rejoice in that, some don't.
So Suarez will miss the Newcastle match that kicks off the New Year's celebration (no reason to not start drinking then, right?). If we're true to ourselves, it was obvious that Suarez needed a break anyway. Yes, there's a long one waiting after all the lawyers and motions and proceedings are over with, but for now this Newcastle match is one that will have to do. While most of whatever Liverpool have created is still going through Suarez, he just has looked off the past few matches. The sharpness hasn't been there, the finishing certainly hasn't, and the vibrancy has been dulled.
And in the most red-colored glasses imaginable, maybe it could be a good thing for Liverpool to try and figure out a way to play without Suarez and with Andy Carroll. With Suarez, Downing and whoever else is on the wings have been encouraged to cut inside and weave pretty patterns with the advanced IQ of Suarez. Now that Carroll will be plowing a lone-furlough, it's probably best to keep Downing and Bellamy/Maxi/someone I haven't thought of on their natural wings and wide. That should leave Carroll isolated against a centerback that he should have the beating of. Behind him should be either Henderson, Shevley, or Gerrard, and none of them should hesitate to get into the box late behind the scorched Earth that Carroll can provide.
As we've discussed before, this is Carroll's time to atone for what hasn't been the most glittering Liverpool career to date. Health and opportunity have not helped, and now both will not be an issue. It may not come Friday, because only having one start is not enough to gain total sharpness. There may be a pressure on Carroll that he feels to be as dynamic and creative as Suarez. God knows he's heard enough in the press about how he's lethargic and blunt in comparison to Suarez. Of course he is, who isn't? Carroll just needs to be ruthless and efficient. He doesn't have to create the chances that Suarez does, just finish the ones others do. He hasn't done that yet, but then again that's come in sporadic appearances. I don't care if his only touches in a match are the ones that put balls into twine. That's all that's required, and Liverpool could use more of it.
Boy, there's an understatement.