In this piece on WhoScored, called ‘Scorers Of The Most Valuable Goals’, the author seems keen to undermine the goalscoring contribution that Luis Suárez has made to Liverpool this season. Needless to say, this has prompted me to respond here!
Without Luis Suarez‘s 18 goals in the Premier League this season, Liverpool would have only 8 fewer points. Despite the fact that he has only scored 1 goal fewer than van Persie, Suarez’s goals have been worth 14 fewer points.
Eight fewer points would see Liverpool sat in 13th right now, and without Luis’ goals then the Reds would’ve lost all of their first five league games, and eight of the first eleven. Brendan Rodgers for one will be grateful for Suarez’ contribution, as he’d almost certainly have lost his job already without it.
The Uruguayan has scored goals in big wins over Swansea, Norwich, Sunderland, QPR and Fulham in the last couple of months, without which his side would have still won each game.
They may have a valid case on a few of these, but Suárez scored or assisted all three goals against Sunderland, and he scored the first two against QPR and also Wigan (which is not mentioned above); we saw recently against West Bromwich Albion how nervous Liverpool get without a goal to settle their nerves, so the value of a first goal should not be underestimated, even if the end result is a comfortable win.
He has scored goals in important draws with the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton and Man City, but the only game that Liverpool wouldn’t have won if it wasn’t for Suarez’s goals was the 5-2 win at Norwich back in September. In other words, Suarez has only scored a match-winning goal in one league match all season.
Aside from the Chelsea match, the other three games offer more good examples of the problem with this kind of analysis. In the Arsenal, Everton and Manchester City games, Suárez scored goals to put Liverpool in front or to extend their lead, so had the team defended better and protected their advantage, then the Uruguayan hitman would have scored more goals that lead to wins. I don’t think this should be held against him, yet it is.
Of course, he is an incredibly gifted player who plays a crucial role for the Anfield club, but he doesn’t step up to the plate with key goals quite as much as van Persie or Bale, and maybe, in the debate over who is the best Premier League player, that fact could play play a key role.
Although the article is about goalscoring, this comment largely dismisses everything else aside from goals that Suárez brings to the Reds when assessing if he is the best player in the Premier League. If we compare his current Premier League ranking to the other players mentioned in terms of creativity, for instance:
Minutes per open play chance created (minimum ten chances): van Persie is outside the top 50, Bale 46th, Suárez 1st.
Clear-cut chances created: Bale joint 18th, van Persie and Suárez are joint third.
This is also before you get to the fact that Suárez has contested the most ground duels in the Premier League, and won possession in the final third more times than any other player this season.
WhoScored may think his goals haven’t been valuable, but I’d say that’s exactly what they’ve been, and I for one do not wish to contemplate next season without Luis Suárez in the red of Liverpool.
Related articles you might like:
Blame Suárez - Liverpool’s striker is more harshly treated by refs than most entire teams are.
Luis Suarez: Pantomime Villain – Football fans around the UK boo Suarez because he is considered to be a cheat. How does he fare compare to his contemporaries in the ‘dark arts’?
Evra-gate: The Impact on Suárez Performance – How did an accusation of racial abuse affect Luis Suárez’ productivity on the pitch?
Luis Suárez – The Man And The Myths – A look at Suárez’ record over the last two-and-a-half years for Ajax.