|“Hey! Liverpool! Ye’re nothing without Suarez!”|
Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has earned the wrath of Liverpool fans by suggesting the Reds would be a mid-table team without his fellow Uruguayan Luis Suarez.
Poyet was speaking to El Observador, a Uruguayan publication, and to be fair to the Sunderland manager he was probably just heaping praise on Suarez rather than trying to question Liverpool’s squad depth. However his decision to do so in the run-up to such an important game for his Sunderland side, embroiled in the battle to avoid relegation, was inadvisable at best.
Suarez has of course been in stellar form this season after returning from his 10 game suspension. Currently level with Robbie Fowler as top Liverpool goalscorer in a Premier League season on 28 goals, there’s every possibility he’ll make the record his own tonight.
However to imply that Liverpool are a one man team would be to do them a disservice. Take Suarez out of the equation, and the next highest goalscorer in the Premier League is his strike partner Daniel Sturridge. Captain Steven Gerrard is also having an excellent season, scoring two penalties at Old Trafford ten days ago to bring his tally for the campaign into double figures. Coutinho, Henderson, Sterling and Skrtel have all contributed goals for Brendan Rodgers’ side as they keep the pressure on Manchester City and Chelsea.
Sunderland go into tonight’s game in 18th place, three points behind Crystal Palace in 17th but with a marginally better goal difference and two games in hand. No win in their last 6, coupled with Liverpool’s perfect record in the same period, would suggest tonight is a write-off for Poyet’s team. It will be interesting to see whether he puts out a weakened side and focuses instead on Saturday’s game against fellow strugglers West Ham.
A win for Liverpool tonight would lift them to second in the table, two points above Manchester City albeit with two games more played. Both City and Chelsea have yet to come to Anfield, and those encounters in April may very well be crucial in deciding who lifts the Premier League title come May 11th.