Here he is above everyoe else, which he always is. - Laurence Griffiths
Liverpool kick off the new year in the best way.
I don't want to make it sound by the headline that this was a one-man victory, because it wasn't. There were wonderful performances all over the pitch, and this was a comprehensive win. But obviously one guy stood above the rest. And I don't want to pretend he didn't any more.
I know it's what opposing fans do, but it's getting harder and harder to grin and laugh at opposing fans who sing "You Know What You Are" at Suarez, be it from the away section at Anfield or at their own stadium. I get it, every team's best player gets taunted in some way. Rooney gets called fat, RVP probably has to hear something related to being a rapist, Lampard hears he's fat, Torres hears he's a waste of money, I can't imagine what Balotelli hears.
But with Suarez, it's more sinister. It's more an insinuation that he's an evil or bad person. That he can never wash off the stain of what went on last year. That he's the only player who might tumble to the turf to get a foul or penalty. Because that never happens in the Premier League. Ever. And I doubt John Terry, who has gone through the same maybe sorta racist thing that Suarez did, but also fucked a friend's girlfriend, taunted Americans on 9/11 in London, and bunch of other bullshit that actually marks him out as a genuinely bad guy, will ever hear stuff like this.
I'm sick of it, because the main story with Suarez shouldn't be anything other than he's a wonderful footballer. Is there a better touch for a striker in this league? I'll wait for my answer. Even if there is, is it combined with the tireless running or the assassin's vision? It most certainly is not. Once again Luis Suarez was so far ahead of the other 21 people on the field this evening, it's was kind of hard to believe.
The other stars of the league hear these taunts and songs because those fans genuinely respect that player's ability and the likelihood that they will be responsible for beating their team. It's time that was the narrative for Suarez too.
I'll get off the soapbox now.
-I feel like you should whisper this if you say it out loud, because otherwise Rodgers might have us kneecapped, but Liverpool's best midfield right now is Lucas-Gerrard-Henderson. As I keep mentioning, it keeps Gerrard bracketed, as Henderson is happy to do some of his running for him and Lucas keeps him shielded defensively. That doesn't mean it will be in a month or more, but it is now. And I say this because the next league match is one where you roll out the best team you've got, and I'm sure that one will include Joe Allen. But it shouldn't. Because Henderson had another wonderful match. He was simply everywhere.
-And his being everywhere allowed Gerrard to exhibit the still world-class play that he can pull out of the hat on occasion. And I think it's clear now where Gerrard can fit into this system now and for the next season (and maybe one after). That deep-lying playmaker. He doesn't have the legs to be behind the striker any more. He's not responsible enough to be the deepest midfielder. But look -- and I'm not saying he is this guy -- Xavi has Busquets behind him and usually Iniesta ahead of him (or someone else). Could Gerrard's future be as Xavi/Xabi Gerrard? It seems most likely if not for sure.
-Raheem Sterling looked lively after getting a break. So did Joe Allen in his cameo. But back to Sterling, that was a finish not of a teenager. His attempt in the second half was. So much promise, but so far to go yet.
-Wisdom looked good going forward, but he lost Kilgallon on the chance that Reina had to bail him out. You expect drops of awareness from a teenager though.
-But god is it nice to have a team blow a couple clear chances and then are immediately punished on the other end. Seen the opposite far too many times.
-Off the field, Joe Cole is out and Daniel Sturridge is in. Just the fact that Sturridge is a warm body who you can regularly put out there is a bonus. I also like that Sturridge is not a bridge buy, only someone you can get in January to help short term. He has the potential to be part of the team for a long time, and to be a part of it when it's accomplishing real things. Will he? My fears have been stated, and we'll just have to see now.
Year starts off just how you'd want it. Many miles to go before you sleep.