We all need a mate; a guy who’s on our wavelength, someone who understands us and raises us from the merely good to the exceptional. Morecombe had Wise, Batman had Robin and even the supposed ‘Lone’ Ranger had Tonto! Just as in TV, so it is in football – especially so with strikers. Sure, there are a few that excel as the isolated attacking pivot, Drogba quickly comes to mind. As the saying goes however, “two’s company;” recall Lineker playing for England, with and without Peter Beardsley for example.
No-one will doubt that Luis Suarez has been outstanding this season for Liverpool. Is it too much of an overstatement to say that he is the prime reason for the rising ‘feel good’ factor permeating the Anfield faithful? Probably not, and I guess that’s the problem. You see, he’s headed up the attacking threat for the Reds on slender shoulders. Sure, Borini has been injured for a chunk of the season, but the Italian has still to notch a League goal for the club since his signing from Roma, and although the shaven-headed aggression of Shelvey has offered some support, he never really looked the ideal partner for the quick-footed and even quicker thinking Suarez. Then in the January window Liverpool secured the services of Daniel Sturridge – surprisingly released by a Chelsea seemingly locked in a ‘love you unto death’ embrace with the increasingly forlorn-looking,goal-shy Torres. Suddenly, it seemed that Rodgers had found Suarez’s foil.
Asituation can sometimes be captured in an instant. For me, this happened inSturridge’s home debut for Liverpool against Norwich. No, not because of the goal he neatly tucked away, it was the moment when a pass was played through to him deep in the Norwich half. As he moved towards the ball, closely followed by one of the Canaries’ defenders, he must have caught sight of Suarez’s run beyond him. In one of those ‘assists’ that never seem to count in the stats, because he didn’t make a pass, he deftly stepped over the ball, taking the defender out of the game, allowing Suarez to collect the ball, run on and score. As the Uruguayan peeled away to celebrate, he turned and pointed to Sturridge, nodding, with a huge smile on his face. It was one of those unspoken communications. “This guy gets me,” he seemed to be saying. If you see the goal again, watch and see if you agree.Conversely, last Monday as Liverpool toiled without success to break down a ‘Baggies’ team that had taken one point from the last possible eighteen, Suarez looked a lot less effective with Sturridge sitting in the stands nursing an injury.
Fortunately for the Anfield faithful, it was a minor injury and the partnership promises to be back in tandem shortly. Should the pair continue to blossom, and provide further impetus for Liverpool’s revival, all talk of Suarez leaving in the summer may disappear and perhaps for Suarez, Dan may indeed be the man.