It had to happen eventually. After hovering on four yellow cards for several matches, Luis Suarez finally received his fifth of the season at home to Southampton, and with it a one game ban.
Suspensions like this are routine for most sides in the league, and indeed would be for Liverpool if it was any other player that they’d be without for the trip to West Ham, but their reliance on Luis Suarez is well documented, and they have few options available to replace him.
With Andy Carroll on loan for the season, and Fabio Borini injured, Suarez is the only senior striker available to Rodgers. Suarez is also by far and away Liverpool’s best player, and one of the outstanding performers in the league this season.
Suarez has scored 10 and set up 2 goals for Liverpool this season, directly contributing to twelve of their 19 league goals. The weekend’s 1-0 win over Southampton was the first time this year Liverpool have picked up three points without Suarez involved in any of the goals.
How Liverpool set up without Suarez will be a real challenge for Rodgers, with few outstanding options. The youth team strikers Adam Morgan and Samed Yesil have each featured in the Europa league this year, and are the only out and out forwards Rodgers is likely to consider.
Another option for the manager would be to move one of his midfielders forward into the centre, but given that Liverpool’s second most prolific Premier League goal scorer is Tottenham’s Gareth Bale, none of them have been showing the clinical edge required to start upfront. However if this is to be Rodger’s preferred method of replacing Suarez, Jonjo Shelvey looks the likeliest man to take on the role, having netted four times in the Europa league.
Liverpool will only be without Suarez for one match so if they are as blunt in his absence as many people expect it won’t be too damaging to their league form.
However if they could get a result at West Ham, where the home team have just defeated Chelsea, it would be a welcome confidence boost to the side, and demonstrate they are a force even without their best player.
To my mind, this would be best achieved by promoting a youth team striker to the first team. If either Morgan or Yesil were to impress at the weekend, it could give Rodgers an option to call on throughout the Christmas fixture list, before dipping into the transfer market in January.
What do you think? How should Liverpool set up their attack without Suarez?
image: © dannymol