Analysis: From Romelu Lukaku to Samuel Eto'o and Stephane Sessegnon - a was mixed weekend for Premier League strikers

Strikers suspended, on loan or returning to haunt former clubs dominated the Saturday agenda

Not since Eric Cantona leapt on to the stanchion after equalising against Liverpool at Old Trafford has there been a comeback quite so anticipated as that of Luis Alberto Suarez Diaz.

His ban has been 10 games rather than the eight months the great Frenchman received in 1995 for hurling himself into the chest of a particularly noxious Crystal Palace fan but, given the rise of the internet, it has been picked over almost as much.

Both threatened to quit, each citing intolerable press intrusion. Cantona, holed up in his hotel suite at Worsley Park, wanted to return to France. Suarez argued his life would be easier if he moved to London, where every national newspaper is produced. Both stayed.

That Suarez is available to face Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday is a neat piece of symmetry, although there is a difference. Cantona’s absence cost United the title in 1995. Beginning with a 6-0 evisceration of Newcastle, Liverpool have flourished without Suarez. Saturday’s barren 1-0 defeat by Southampton was the exception to the pattern.

Given the way he has supported Liverpool by turning up to every one of their games at Anfield, Suarez still appears what Kenny Dalglish used to call “the wee smiley guy”. His appearance in a Uruguayan advert in which, dressed in a suit, he dives, blames everyone else in the office for the lack of coffee and knocks co-workers off their keyboards suggests humour and self-awareness.

However, there will be casualties when he returns. Suarez’s absence gave Daniel Sturridge the chance to shine that at Manchester City and Chelsea he was never granted. They have proved they can play together – both found the net in that fateful game against Chelsea when Suarez bit Branislav Ivanovic – but for Raheem Sterling, Victor Moses and Iago Aspas, a man who does not fill the No 9 at Liverpool, the limelight may fade.

If Jose Mourinho’s decision to let Moses leave Stamford Bridge seems reasonable, giving Everton the services of Romelu Lukaku, a member of the Belgian “golden generation” and a Chelsea fan who numbered Didier Drogba and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink among his heroes, appeared bizarre.

His 17 goals for West Bromwich Albion were more than Wayne Rooney or Sergio Aguero achieved for their clubs last season. Lukaku was sixth in the list of the Premier League’s leading scorers and fourth when it came to the percentage of their club’s goals scored by a single player. Christian Benteke, who accounted for 40 per cent of Aston Villa’s goals, tops that particular list, which is why his injury dulled their 1-0 win at Norwich on Saturday.

There is an episode of the 1970s TV series Happy Days in which The Fonz is unable to speak the phrase “I was wrong”. The self-styled Happy One might have similar problems when it comes to Samuel Eto’o. “He is still a killer,” Mourinho had remarked in the wake of an insipid debut at Everton but he no longer looks like a striker who delivers European Cups.

His sharpness seems dulled by two years of penthouse living in Moscow – flying down to Dagestan under armed guard to play for Anzhi Makhachkala on match days.

For this he earned £35m and it would be like asking a singer who has grown fat and rich playing Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to do a world tour. Would Eto’o really have risked injury to score the winner as Lukaku did for Everton at Upton Park?

“You still have to put your head where it hurts,” said Roberto Martinez, who is now the Premier League’s only unbeaten manager. “The younger generation sometimes forget the old, strong attributes you need to be a footballer.”

That Stéphane Sessègnon should have scored the opening goal that hastened his former manager at Sunderland, Paolo Di Canio, to defeat was proof of what the football writer, Brian Glanville, would call the “immutable law of the ex”.

Di Canio had his reasons for ridding Sunderland of a dangerous but inconsistent footballer. He had been arrested for drink-driving on a night his team was playing Milton Keynes Dons in the League Cup.

Sessègnon is also not a footballer who would have been comfortable with Di Canio’s urge to march his men until they drop. Despite his arrest, he is not brash off the pitch. His new manager at West Bromwich Albion, Steve Clarke, described him as the “only man who smiles less than me”. His shyness meant he would only give interviews to The Sunderland Echo because they would talk to him in French.

Nevertheless, Sessègnon played a pivotal role in the only two Premier League games Di Canio has won and those who have followed his career on Wearside closely say he could turn one game in five.

That might equate to 21 points over the course of a season. This morning Sunderland have one.

Voices
On the last day of campaigning before the polling booths open, the SNP leader has written to voters in a final attempt to convince them to vote for independence
scotland decidesIs a huge gamble on oil keeping First Minister up at night?
Arts and Entertainment
Rosalind Buckland, the inspiration for Cider with Rosie died this week
booksBut what is it like to be the person who inspires a classic work of art?
Life and Style
techApple has just launched its latest mobile operating software – so what should you do first?
News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
newsThe 'extremely dangerous' attempt to avoid being impounded has been heavily criticised
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona
filmSo what makes the little man tick?
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: An undercooked end (spoiler alert)
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding
musicThe singer said 'the last thing I want to do is degrade'
Sport
Cesc Fabregas celebrates his first Chelsea goal
footballChelsea vs Schalke match report
Arts and Entertainment
Toby Jones (left) and Mackenzie Crook in BBC4’s new comedy The Detectorists
tvMackenzie Crook's 'Detectorists' makes the hobby look 'dysfunctional', they say
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week