A Clean Sheet & The Luis Suárez Show

By on October 31, 2011

 

Roy Hodgson may have gotten the slightest bit of revenge the last time Liverpool and West Brom met, but this time it was all about Luis Suarez as the Reds scored two and kept a clean sheet to take their unbeaten run to seven games.

Liverpool were without Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher for this match, and perhaps that would have hurt them in the past, but as we saw midweek against Stoke they are more than capable of coping without those two these days.

Liverpool’s penalty decision was about the most exciting thing to happen in a pretty stale first half. It was giveable — as there was definite contact on Suarez — however it wouldn’t have been surprising if the referee had of waved play on. Charlie Adam certainly didn’t give it a second though as he dispatched the penalty easily to put Liverpool in the driving seat.

After that, the Hawthorns momentarily roared into life and Martin Olsson — clearly annoyed at the decision — took revenge into his own hands with an elbow to the back of Suarez’s head. Certainly, another rash tackle from Olsson on Andy Carroll moments later could have easily been a red card and it was about time someone calmed him down.

As it happened, while Olsson was looking for someone else to fight West Brom appeared to forget about defending for 30 seconds and left both Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez marked by one man. A brilliant ball on the outside of his right foot from Lucas found Suarez on the far right hand side who in turn put Carroll through on goal with another great pass.

The big Geordie, completely unmarked, look certain to squander an unmissable chance — like so many times before — when he took a heavy first touch but somehow managed to get it into the bottom right hand corner. It was a tad fortunate for him, but it was just reward for a player who has certainly improved after months of below par displays. He’s not yet at the level Liverpool need, far from it in fact, but there is hope.

As much as Carroll has improved he is still very much in the shadows of Liverpool’s two pronged attack. Every attack, every shot that Liverpool have seems to flow through Luis Suarez in one way or another. He won the penalty which Adam converted and he provided the assist for Carroll’s goal.

There is a danger that Liverpool have pinned too much hope on him. If he were to get a long term injury there is every chance the Reds would be nowhere near good enough for the top four. That being said, every team needs a source of inspiration. Someone to conduct those around him and provide a moment of magic when the team needs it. If Suarez stays fit and in form, he’ll be the difference between top four and not.

At the end of the day this was another step forward for Liverpool. Their first come from behind victory under Dalglish against Stoke in the Carling Cup midweek, followed by their first clean sheet of the season playing against eleven men and it’s been a pretty good week for the Reds.

But it must be taken in context. West Brom really never fired a shot going forward. Whether that’s down to the relative attacking ineptitude of Roy Hodgson sides or the strength of Liverpool’s defense is up to you.

I might be clutching at straws here too, but perhaps this clean sheet is more than just a coincidence, and any two of Skrtel, Coates and Agger are much more physically qualified to cope with the demands of big, fast opposition strikers than the 33 year old Jamie Carragher.

Even though he reads the game better than most, there are times when he appears to get left behind by much more athletic opposition. Midweek against Stoke, Kenwyne Jones left him completely for dead as he strode across goal and finished off a cross with a powerful header.

Then again, one clean sheet without him is not a large enough sample size to draw a such a conclusion. It is however, food for thought. Certainly, it was a much more professional display from a Liverpool side than we’ve seen in a while. All this progress will, however, mean nothing if Liverpool crumble against Manchester City and Chelsea in a few weeks time.

City, in particular, are the benchmark this season. A good performance against them will be the real sign that this side are good enough for the top four. Let’s not forget, it’s not so long ago that Liverpool were flogged 4-0 by Spurs.

Nonetheless, this win makes it seven undefeated competitive games for Kenny Dalglish’s side. No matter which way you look at it, those are good numbers. An encounter with Swansea at Anfield next week gives the Reds every opportunity to make it eight, and that will do everyone’s confidence no end of good going into the match against Chelsea on the 20th November.

You can watch the goals from WBA 0-2 Liverpool here

 

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