THE 2011-12 season kicks off this weekend and Liverpool fans are counting down the hours, minutes and seconds in anticipation of what they believe will be the year the Reds get back into the Champions League.
Two men who will be key in achieving that ambition are Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez. The pair were signed in January to replace Fernando Torres and will be responsible for scoring the goals to lift Liverpool back up the table. However, due to Carroll’s lengthy lay-off at the start of the year the pair have only played together five times, which is not enough to form a title winning partnership. Suarez has missed most of pre-season after competing in- and winning- the Copa America and has now been given time off to recover from the competition, so it looks as if the pair will not get the chance to play together before the start of the new campaign. Liverpool will need to be scoring goals and winning games right from the off if they are to be challenging at the top this season. But if Carroll and Suarez are not yet sure how to play together, will they score the goals to get Liverpool back into the Champions League?
There is no doubt in either player’s ability to score goals. Luis Suarez is a natural goal-scorer. He is quick, skilful and has great movement, which makes him difficult to mark. The Uruguayan likes to play on the shoulder of the last man and push him deep towards the goal, but can also pull out wide into the flanks and create space for his team-mates to run into. He is a clever player, a team player and is aware of everything, but what makes Suarez a deadly striker is his ability to score from different positions. The Uruguayan can score with a smart finish inside the area, can shoot from distance and is a free-kick specialist, and he can do the impossible as we saw against Sunderland last season. While playing for Dutch giants Ajax in the Eridivise Suarez scored 111 goals in 159 games, including a remarkable 49 goals in 48 games during the 2009-10 season. His career total is 142 goals from 242 games. He has played with some of the best strikers in the world including Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan and was part of the Uruguay team that reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2010. His style of play has seen him compared to Kenny Dalglish by former Liverpool centre-back Mark Lawrenson.
“Lots of people have arrived at Liverpool and people have said they remind me of Dalglish and they never were because he was so special, but Suarez might just be the closest,” Lawrenson said.
“He’s got all the ability in the world and a real mean streak. He is a top player. Kenny’s eyes light up when he talks about him. He’s got that little bit of everything and when you see goals like he scored at Sunderland last season you ask yourself ‘how’s he done that?’, which was another trait Dalglish had.
“He’s got great ability. He is very aware of everything, a real team player, a handful to play against and like all South Americans can really look after himself. Players like Diego Maradona and Carlos Tevez found themselves getting booted on a regular basis but were tough and could give it back. Suarez is the same.”
While Suarez was competing for Ajax in the Europea League against teams like Juventus and Anderlecht in the 2009-10 season, Carroll was competing in the Championship for Newcastle against teams like Plymouth Argyle and Doncaster Rovers… Bit of a difference… In that season Carroll scored 17 goals in 39 games and in his first six months in the Premier League he scored 11 times in 19 games, including a hat-trick against Aston Villa in a 5-0 win. His goals earned him his first England call-up against France in November and his second against Ghana in March- when he scored his first international goal.