Jack Pitt-Brooke: Luis Suarez's hard shift gives Liverpool wings against Arsenal

At heart he is a disrupter and a pest, a footballing teaser and taunter

There are times when disrupting your best player is the right thing to do. Liverpool’s Brendan Rodgers played Luis Suarez out of position at the Emirates, for the greater good, and it nearly won him the game.

Should it really have been a surprise that Suarez, the most exciting forward in the Premier League, was both so thrilling and so efficient on the left wing? Rodgers needs to find a way to start Daniel Sturridge up front, even if that means – on first glance – negating his best player. But football is a team game and sometimes, when done in the right manner, compromising a strength can be worthwhile.

So it was at the Emirates. Suarez might, conceivably, have done even more had he played up front but the team, for the first hour at least, as Liverpool took a 2-0 lead, worked best with him on the wing.

It was a broad role, requiring him to stay wide and hassle Bacary Sagna while, whenever possible, providing a threat in the penalty box too. He achieved this perfectly within just five minutes, putting Liverpool ahead.

Suarez, at heart, is a disrupter and a pest, a footballing teaser and taunter. In one of the first moves of the game he won a corner from Sagna and, soon after, started and ended the move from which Liverpool took the lead.

It began with Suarez darting away from Sagna to receive a pass and flick it round the corner. The pass did not work, but Sagna was wrong-footed by the movement and slipped. Glen Johnson took the ball, crossed and, via Thomas Vermaelen, Sturridge, Wojciech Szczesny, Aaron Ramsey and Stewart Downing, it returned to Suarez, who finished via a deflection.

The move started and ended with Suarez’s instinctive and incisive play, just as dangerous coming in from the wing as starting from the front.

Suarez is often accused of selfishness, as any player so far superior to his team-mates will be. But even when on the wing, he has the vision and the technical ability to deliver the ball better than some of the other specialist wide players at his club.

Five minutes after scoring the first, Suarez nearly made a second. Receiving the ball near the halfway line on the left wing, Suarez chested it down, let it bounce, chested it on and then volleyed diagonally across the pitch beyond Vermaelen and into the path of Sturridge. The finish was difficult and Liverpool’s new striker could not make it but as a moment of creation out of nothing at all, it was one of the best you will see this season.

But there is more to playing on the wing than just these moments of advanced technical quality. If that is all Rodgers wanted he might as well have played Suarez up front. The rest of the job, the ugly, dirty work, the work which Dirk Kuyt took to so well at Liverpool, Suarez did just as well.

Sagna is not quite the full-back he was but Suarez chased him back down the wing, pushing him off the ball, playing with just as much conviction and desire in his half as he usually does in the opponent’s. His labours on the halfway line earned valuable free-kicks and even a yellow card for Santi Cazorla, disrupting Arsenal’s rhythm.

The home side did eventually impose themselves on the game and Rodgers had to readjust in an attempt to take the lead. Bringing Jose Enrique on, Suarez was moved up front and in the fourth minute of added time he nearly showed what a rather useful striker he is too, forcing Szczesny to make a good diving save that prevented Suarez from winning the game 3-2.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor