Luis Suarez a magician for Liverpool
It sounds ridiculous, but it seems to be a stroke of considerable luck for Liverpool that Arsenal only bid a mere £40,000,001 for Luis Suarez over the summer. Maybe it’s not even too much of an exaggeration to say it was the best thing that could have happened to them.
There were certainly enough whispers around football during the early days of the transfer window to suggest that Liverpool were open to having their heads turned by a serious bid for their maverick striker. The opportunity to move on from the crazy, turbulent, bewitching -- yet bittersweet -- alliance with Suarez was a complex subject for the club to weigh up. In many ways it became simple the moment Arsenal raised Liverpool’s shackles with a bid they took as an insult. The phone was effectively slammed down. Subject closed.
John W. Henry’s infamous tweet - ‘What do you think they're smoking over there at Emirates?’ – sent out a punchy enough message. And it was a message not only to Arsenal, but to Suarez’s agent (who had sent signals out about release clauses in the first place), to any other club that might have been pondering a substantial offer for the Uruguayan, and to Brendan Rodgers and the Liverpool squad about how serious the club were. It was also a message sent directly to Suarez himself. Remember, this was a player who was at the time probing for a move while in the middle of a lengthy ban.
Suarez was left under no illusions about where he would be playing his football this season, and after a minor sulk he knuckled down accordingly. The consequences of that message are being felt just about every week in the Premier League at the moment, with Suarez back in mesmerizing form, that buck-toothed smile radiating as the goals flow.
Henry was inspired enough to send out another sweetly formed tweet after watching Suarez score a scintillating hat-trick. “Luis. Magician,” the principal owner wrote. It is always a good sign when analysis of a striker’s performance provokes debate about which is his goals in a particular game was best. Two, out of his razor sharp trio, were especially fine.
Watching him plunder glorious goals in Liverpool red, and soaking up the adulation of the Anfield masses, you almost wonder whether Henry perhaps owes Arsenal another tweet to say thanks for their catalytic role in the renewal of the love affair between Liverpool and their firebrand striker.
An Anfield hat-trick only reinforced how the relationship between club and player has been repaired, during a weekend for redemptions. Elsewhere, Fernando Torres’ immaculately timed rarity of a Premier League goal gave Chelsea an emotionally charged win over Manchester City. Manchester United’s rediscovery of a Fergie-esque knack for rescuing games with dramatic, late, surges of personality, also felt significant.
The quality of Liverpool’s striking play, with Daniel Sturridge also excelling up front for this season, has been such a significant booster. But Rodgers was keen to dampen too much expectation after an exhilarating win over West Brom. The Liverpool manager underplayed any talk of his team as title contenders. "After 10 games you have a little look but we will assess it as we go along," he said coolly.
That tenth game is an intriguing one. It happens to be away to league leaders Arsenal. The Premier League fixture list has been gentle to both teams so far, but things are heating up. Liverpool will travel to Arsenal, Everton, Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea over the next couple of months. Arsenal have two separate bursts of top domestic opponents mixed with their demanding Champions League rivals to negotiate before Christmas.
Presumably, Liverpool’s travelling support will have a message or two to relay directly to Arsenal next weekend. That single pound, on top of a £40,000,000 bid, has turned out to be invaluable.