Lucas: Suarez is the best in league
Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva believes they have the best player in the league in Luis Suarez but that does not mean they will get carried away with their position at the top of the table.
The Uruguay striker took his Premier League tally to 19 in 12 games with two goals in the 3-1 win over troubled Cardiff at Anfield which took the Reds above leaders Arsenal – for another day at least.
After signing a lucrative new contract on Friday which made him the highest-paid player in the club’s history, reportedly on £175,000-a-week, it was business as usual for the 26-year-old with two brilliant strikes he made look almost routine.
"What he is doing this season and what he has done in the past few seasons he deserved that," said Brazilian Lucas of his fellow South American.
"We can see he is really comfortably playing here.
"It (the contract) is a positive message because the owners and manager said they want to keep their best players and at the moment he is not only our best player but the best player in the league.
"Hopefully he will maintain this form for a long time for the club."
If the Gunners fail to beat fourth-placed Chelsea on Monday Liverpool will remain top of the table ahead of their Boxing Day clash at Manchester City, which is then followed by a trip to Stamford Bridge.
The last four teams to occupy that position went on to win the title but even with Suarez in the form he is Lucas insists they are taking nothing for granted.
"We are top of the league until Monday. It is good to be there, it gives you a lot of confidence," the Brazil midfielder told LFC TV.
"We just go game by game. We know our main target is to play Champions League again and every week we are improving.
"If we keep the same mentality playing as a team I think we will have a good season and a positive one.
"We go into the next two games knowing they are crucial but with a lot of confidence, especially after winning four games in a row."
After 25 minutes of resistance, Cardiff, who had enough to worry about with manager Malky Mackay on the verge of the sack after a fall-out with owner Vincent Tan, were beaten by another quality Suarez strike.
Jordan Henderson’s inviting cross was expertly volleyed home by the striker having initially started the move,
Suarez then turned provider as, somewhat amazingly, having run on to Henderson’s through-ball with only goalkeeper David Marshall to beat he unselfishly squared for Raheem Sterling to score.
But he saved the best until last and with Henderson involved again, this time with a cute backheel, the former Ajax forward curled a brilliant shot around several bodies in a crowded penalty area and inside the far post.
Liverpool could have been out of sight by half-time as Philippe Coutinho and Jon Flanagan both hit the post, the latter only denied doubling his career total in successive games by the boot of Marshall right on the line.
Cardiff rallied briefly after the break and although the unmarked Jordon Mutch’s header created a spell of pressure, Suarez hit the woodwork at the other end just to remind the visitors he had not forgotten where the goal was.
Manager Brendan Rodgers knows the next two matches could have a significant bearing on their season, especially if they come through both unscathed.
"We are really looking forward to the games," he said.
"Last year we should have won at Manchester City and ended up drawing.
"They have a great squad of players and everyone looks at it being their title to lose.
"For us it is about taking each game at a time. We have been on a fantastic run and the quality of our football is at a very high level.
"We will arrive there on Boxing Day in a really good moment."