Tottenham v Liverpool: Luis Suarez is like no other according to team-mate Glen Johnson
Suarez's determination to win at all costs singles him out from the rest says the England right-back
Saturday 14 December 2013
Liverpool defender Glen Johnson admits he has never encountered anyone in football with a will to win like Luis Suarez.
The Reds striker has scored 15 times this season in a series of stellar displays and leads Manchester City's Sergio Aguero by three in the race to be the Barclays Premier League's top scorer.
The Uruguay international's goals have come from just 10 appearances, after his 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last season was carried over into the start of this campaign.
Suarez has never been too far from controversy throughout his career - Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers often refers to the 26-year-old playing "on the edge" - but Johnson believes that fighting spirit is what makes Suarez so effective.
"I've not known anyone like him in terms of living on the edge and wanting to win so badly," Johnson told Press Association Sport.
"There is a fine line and that is probably why some people get frustrated when things aren't going their way - sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not such a good thing."
Suarez's controversial past makes him an easy target for opposition fans, but this season has seen the striker improve his focus and control his aggression - one booking in 11 appearances so far is testament to that.
He may never win over his harshest critics but some of the goals he has scored - including some supreme strikes in his four-goal haul against Norwich last week - can at least be appreciated by the wider public.
"Obviously he had a few little mistakes - outbursts - on the pitch but nine times out of 10 he is perfectly normal and that is what we are seeing now," added Johnson.
"Providing things don't stir up again you are seeing what we see every day now."
Johnson said Suarez's value to Liverpool could not be measured in purely financial terms and in that respect was echoing the sentiments of owner John Henry, who stressed in August there was no possible way he could countenance selling to one of the club's main rivals amid interest from Arsenal.
"Usually some owners will say that to push the price up but John Henry said that and stuck by his guns," said the England defender.
"I think that was great and if we want to get the club back to where it belongs we need all our best players.
"He is clearly a massive player for us and some of the goals he has scored have been laughable."
With Daniel Sturridge (nine league goals) and Steven Gerrard (three) both injured for the trip to Tottenham, Liverpool suddenly look over-reliant on the scoring threat of Suarez.
Their next highest scorer - discounting three own goals - has just one. Johnson is confident, however, that the rest of the squad can step up in the absence of Sturridge and Gerrard.
"We've not dropped outside the top four once and Luis didn't play for the first five weeks," he said.
"That is another sign that the squad is brilliant. We need Luis to play and continue this form but we have a good squad, it is not just all about Luis.
"Clearly we want to be getting goals from set-pieces, goals from midfielders, everyone chipping in, you can't just lean on one person."
The clash at White Hart Lane is billed as one between top-four rivals but not necessarily title contenders. However, Johnson believes the Reds, who began the weekend in second place, five points behind Arsenal, should have higher aspirations.
"Both clubs are fighting to be in the top four. It doesn't mean we are happy to stay fourth - top four is the minimum," he said.
"People are entitled to think what they like about what teams will do well but I've always been confident because we have some great players here and a good squad.
"Last season we were only a bit of luck away from doing what we are doing this season in terms of we absolutely battered teams and ended up drawing 0-0 too may times.
"At the moment the goals are going in so we are getting the points.
"I guess people are saying we're not title contenders because we haven't been that for the last couple of seasons.
"But we have a different team and squad and we are clearly fighting for the title.
"If that happens every week then we will be proving a lot of people wrong."
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