Early Doors

Suarez shows his best side

Early Doors

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There is a constant mental balancing act that must be applied when evaluating the rather unique talent that is Luis Suarez. For every moment of brilliance there is a dive or a hissy fit, or worse.

But yesterday, in Liverpool's 1-1 draw with Newcastle, we got another glimpse into what Suarez would be like if the scales tipped firmly in the favour of 'unplayable genius' rather than 'dastardly rogue'.

Sure, there were a few indignant gestures to the referee - Suarez without those would be like Eric Cantona without the upturned collar - but this was a performance of sheer class, a display that reminded us once again why he is worth all the trouble.

The masterpiece was of course his equaliser in the second half. Like everyone else, Early Doors sat agog as Suarez nonchalantly controlled a 60-yard pass on his shoulder like he was plucking an apple from a low-hanging branch, gave Tim Krul the swerve and tapped the ball home for one of the goals of the season so far.

This was a goal worthy of Cantona or Dennis Bergkamp. It genuinely was astonishing given the technical ability and poise required to pull it off. Suarez at his absolute best: a mixture of instinct and execution. And despite the reservations you may have about Suarez the man, it was a triumph for Suarez the footballer.

In fact the whole game played to his beat. After his goal he carved out chance after chance for his team-mates but sadly for Liverpool Raheem Sterling and Jonjo Shelvey lacked his class. The two young Englishmen are two much more likely candidates for Brendan Rodgers's infamous envelopes of shame.

Meanwhile, Suarez's relentless darting runs put Newcastle's defence on the verge of a nervous breakdown, before Fabricio Coloccini completely lost his mind. Compared to Bobby Moore recently by his manager, his apparent attempt to remove Suarez's leg below the knee was more reminiscent of the Ron 'Chopper' Harris brand of retro defending. What it certainly did demonstrate was that Suarez had mentally defeated him, his unbridled energy and drive gradually eroding Coloccini's composure.

Suarez is capable of inflicting that kind of mental disintegration, and as such it's not hard to see why Liverpool fans love him. In fact, the way they embrace him despite all his faults reminds ED of a famous quote from Franklin D. Roosevelt. When the 32nd American President was describing a Central American dictator, he admitted: "He might be a bastard, but he's our bastard."

Rodgers was rather less qualified with his praise for the striker on Sunday evening:

"Luis is an absolute joy to work with," he said. "He's aiming to get better every day he trains and he is still a young player. He's committed his best years to us here, which is brilliant. He just has a real hunger for the game.

"We play him in that false number nine role. He is not your traditional number nine who stands up there, stood static. That's why when we get a number of players in who can work off his qualities it is going to make us a real threat and allow us to penetrate behind him.

"When Coloccini got sent off he was frustrated. Coloccini is a good defender, he's been a great player over a few years for Newcastle but Luis is so bright, so clever. He's a real world class striker and on that form today he really provokes and frustrates defenders."

It is no surprise that Rodgers is so effusive when discussing Suarez. After all, the Uruguayan is pretty much the only player sparing him from outright disaster at present. With 10 goals in all competitions he is Liverpool's outstanding player, not that the competition is particularly tough in a season that has proved hugely frustrating yet again for the club's supporters.

Though he must share the blame with Kenny Dalglish - the man whose awful use of resources has left Liverpool scrabbling around and unable to buy Clint Dempsey - Rodgers has contributed significantly to a rather worrying stat for Liverpool. They have secured only three home wins in the league in 2012 - the joint-lowest in their history along with 1939 when, of course, the league was curtailed by war. In 2012 they have 29 points from 29 games - relegation form.

Given the hole Liverpool would be in without him, for Rodgers, the Suarez positives certainly outweigh the negatives. The question now is whether he can curb the more offensive aspects to his nature and accentuate the genius he possesses, of whether, like Wayne Rooney, it is generally accepted by the amateur psychologists we all are that to remove one side of his personality would be to remove it all, rendering him ineffective and lobotomised.

Because at the moment, watching Suarez play is like ordering a gourmet soup knowing that at one point during the process of eating the thing you are going to accidentally slurp on a stray, suspiciously curly hair. A fear of imminent disgust lurks every time he takes to the pitch.

Yesterday was a reminder of what he could be without all the histrionics, the attitude and the lingering stench of his failure to apologise for racially abusing Patrice Evra. But maybe that's just what makes up Luis Suarez, the most polarising footballer in English football.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I never got anywhere near the last year of my contract. You don't let them go into their last year and run their contract down. It's about winning, and how do you win? You have the best players, and if you keep selling your best players you're not going to win. If you sell your best players you're not going to challenge for titles. There's been so many players who have moved on and are doing great jobs for other teams, the list is endless." - Tony Adams gets to the nub of Arsenal's problems following a 2-1 loss at Manchester United.

FOREIGN VIEW: Diego Milito scored twice as Internazionale came from behind to win 3-1 at Juventus, ending the Serie A leaders' 49-match unbeaten run in the league. Juve, who had not lost in nearly two years, were looking to better Arsenal's 49-match streak from their 'unbeatable' spell in 2004. But despite taking the lead through an offside Arturo Vidal goal, the Bianconeri could not resist a superb Inter side, who had their own run to extend — their ninth win in a row.

COMING UP: We have some Premier League action tonight as struggling Southampton visit West Brom, with kick-off at The Hawthorns coming at 8pm. Prior to that we have Jan Molby's latest column as well as the European and Premier League Teams of the Week.

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