Selfish Suarez? He Puts It On A Plate...

The stats suggest Luis Suarez has become a selfless figure in Liverpool's success, writes Adam Bate. Nobody else in the Premier League creates so many clear-cut chances...

Last Updated: 11/02/14 at 11:19 Post Comment

Latest Articles

Where Has Van Gaal Improved United?

Post comment

Louis van Gaal has blamed 'luck' and the lack of a 20-goal-a-season striker for Manchester United's poor performances. After limping to victory over Sunderland, when will the excuses run out?

Tackling The Pochettino Effect At Spurs

2 comments

As Tottenham prepare to face Chelsea, Adam Bate looks at how Mauricio Pochettino has changed Spurs. There's a massive emphasis on tackling and energy...

All Articles

It's not just developments in Environmental Health laws that make a mockery of the old adage about today's newspapers being tomorrow's chip paper. In the new digital age, more than ever before, reputations stick. Type into a well-known internet search engine the words 'selfish' and 'Suarez' and you can get more than 292,000 results.

Many of those articles are in reference to his off-the-field actions. In particular, the machinations of the summer in which the Uruguayan appeared to agitate for a move away from Anfield after Liverpool had waded into murky waters in endeavouring to support the striker. But his playing style came under scrutiny too. One high-profile website asked the question: 'Is Suarez too selfish to fit in at Real Madrid?'

The popular theory was rooted in the view that he frequently eschewed the opportunity to play in Liverpool team-mates, instead opting to go for personal glory himself. Some of the statistics backed up that opinion. In the 2011/12 season, only two players averaged more shots per game than the Reds forward. They were Robin van Persie, who scored 30 goals, and Wayne Rooney, who netted 27 times. By way of comparison, Suarez found the goal on just 11 occasions.

Of course, that says little for the quality of chances Suarez was working with. Ambitious efforts from distance and unlikely attempts from tight angles had become something of a calling card. Moreover, it also ignores the fact that many of these opportunities were fashioned by his own unique efforts - an instep turn here, a wriggle in the box there.

Even so, it is no huge leap to suggest his performances reflected a lack of complete trust in his Liverpool colleagues. This looked an awful lot like a player who'd come to the inevitable conclusion that an off-balance shot on the half-turn was nevertheless preferable to setting up Stewart Downing for a one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

And so, there is a certain irony in the fact that the perceived selfishness of the summer preceded the completion of his conversion into a wholly selfless player. The goals have continued to flow. Indeed, there have been more of them than ever - an amazing 23 in just 20 Premier League appearances so far this season. But that barely scratches the surface of his contribution.

"What's been brilliant this season has been the maturity of the man," said Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers in January. The casual observer might raise an eyebrow at such claims, recalling instead the theatrical reaction to Daniel Sturridge's refusal to pass during the Merseyside derby win earlier this month. In fact, Suarez's frustration is merely evidence of the high quality decision-making he expects from others.

"I don't blame him," admitted Sturridge afterwards. "I was fuming with myself too." It's understandable that the England international should have adopted a conciliatory attitude once he'd calmed down. After all, his strike partner Suarez is not only the Premier League top scorer but also the division's star creator of opportunities for his team.

Opta defines a big chance as follows: 'A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.' Suarez has created 16 such opportunities in the current Premier League campaign. That's as many as Chelsea's Eden Hazard and Manchester City's David Silva have managed between them. In fact, nobody else has created more than ten big chances.

Saturday's spectacular 5-1 thrashing of Arsenal was an obvious example of Suarez's importance in this regard. Ostensibly, the four-goal first-half blitz that saw off the visitors had little to do with Liverpool's star man as Martin Skrtel headed home two Steven Gerrard corners before Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge grabbed a goal apiece.

But there was the measured pass for Sterling's goal that left it trickier for the youngster to fend off the advancing Sturridge for the tap-in than miss the target. Sturridge himself should've been on the scoresheet by then anyway if he'd beaten Wojciech Szczesny with a clear-cut chance after being sent through courtesy of a delicious first-time volleyed pass from that man Suarez.

It was the fifth match this season in which the 27-year-old has created two or more big chances - nobody else has done that more than twice - and it's characteristic of the new Suarez. Notably, there was the lay-off to Sterling when clean through against Cardiff in December too. "He's through on goal and you don't see too many strikers do that," said Rodgers. "It shows you the team player that he is."

With 13 matches remaining and only ten goals required to break the Premier League record for a 38-game season, there is ample time for the individual awards to come his way. The search matches for 'selfish Suarez' might even hit 300,000 before the campaign has concluded. But don't be fooled. It's selfless Suarez leading the way for this Liverpool team.

Adam Bate - though we only address him as Ghostgoal

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

Most Commented

Readers' Comments

W

ell that really inspires me with confidence. No point in training, deciding on a coherent formation, or playing players in their best positions, let's just hope we get lucky.

mumbo_jimbo
Van Gaal: Luck is key

I

believe this is because for sepp Christmas is a 7 day feast finishing on the 25th

hiya
Blatter calls for early final

F

alcao really needs to shine now. Apparently according to the stats, he scores more when played up front alone. I wonder if Van Gaal will actually apply a formation to get the best out of him though.

anthracyte
Van Persie lay-off expected

Latest Photos

Footer 365

Sean Dyche downbeat after Burnley lose to Swansea defeat at Turf Moor

Burnley boss Sean Dyche says his side must start turning performances into wins after losing 1-0 to Swansea at Turf Moor.

Jonas Gutierrez wants top-10 finish for Newcastle after return

Jonas Gutierrez has targeted a top-10 finish with Newcastle after returning to the squad for the win against Aston Villa.

Steve Bruce angered by 'offside' goal in Hull's 1-0 loss at Stoke

Hull City boss Steve Bruce was adamant that Peter Crouch's match-winning header in Stoke's 1-0 victory was offside.

Mail Box

Are Tottenham Right To Redevelop?

It's a really good Friday afternoon Mailbox, with thoughts on Spurs' ground development, the Europa league (leave it alone) and one man running for a very good cause...

Rodgers Is More Of A Paisley Than A Rafa

Most Liverpool fans in the Mailbox are claiming to be pleased to see the back of the Europa League. Plus merging the Europa and Champions League, and winter WC...

© 2015 Sky Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media company