Luis Suarez has grabbed the headlines of late for all the wrong reasons but many fans and pundits still regard him to be a top Premier League striker. However with only seven goals in 25 Premier League appearances can we really regard him as one of the top Premier League strikers?
Suarez is currently the 26th top goal scorer in the Premier League this season. The table featured below represents a statistical comparison of Suarez and some other Premier League strikers:
|Shots per game
Many of those who defend Suarez’s form point to his 9 game suspension, however if we look at the above table we can see that he has still started 23 games, more than Klasnic and Morison who have outscored him, as well as only starting 1 fewer game than Rooney and 1 fewer than Aguero. His shortfall in goals compared to the league’s top scorers is simply not explained by his suspension as there are no major differences in appearances.
Seven goals in 25 appearances is not good enough for a ‘top’ striker. Many Liverpool fans will talk about how he creates chances for others but again if we look at assists he has fewer than any other striker on this table with just three. Again his shots per game ratio is high with 4.2, however with a lack of goals to match it surely demonstrates that he is not the best finisher and is perhaps not a natural goal scorer.
I would argue that Suarez is a good Premier League forward, with his dynamism skill and pace as major assets that cause trouble for opposition sides and help Liverpool in games that they are struggling to win, however it does not compensate for an all round lack of goals or assists. Suarez does attempt more dribbles than any of the forwards noted here with 2.1 per game which indicates the willingness to try and make things happen out of nothing. The video featured below demonstrates this with examples of his attacking flair and dynamic runs.
Explanations for poor goal scoring return
Suarez was bought in order to partner Carroll in an old school little and large striking combination, however with Carroll failing to get going Suarez has been elevated to the focal point of Liverpool’s attacks when arguably he is more naturally inclined to play in behind a more out and out striker.
The bad form of Carroll, who only has three league goals this season, has thus arguably negatively impacted on Suarez in a tactical sense as he is now been forced to lead the line as the main striker. In the game Liverpool lost against QPR for example Suarez was chosen to lead the line despite his inclination to drop deep and get involved in the play, as well as to run into the channels. Suarez for example completes an average of 33.7 passes per game which is relatively high for a striker.
Liverpool are also a relatively methodical side that lack creative spark as players like Downing or Kuyt are at times more work man like than dynamic. Further to this Liverpool attempt more crosses than any other Premier League side with 29 per game which in theory is suited to Carroll but not to Suarez who is not the sort of striker who wants to get on the end of crosses or make runs into the six yard box.
Currently Suarez is playing in the Torres role but also in the Gerrard role from the days Liverpool operated in the 4-4-1-1 with Gerrard in behind Torres, naturally Suarez is more comfortable as the attacking midfielder or support role, rather than leading the line.
Despite being a good striker, he is certainly not a top Premier League striker as he is only the 26th top scorer in the league. The excuse used that he has missed many games due to suspension also does not ring true as several of those games were cup ties and he has played 24 league games still, only scoring six, as stated above.
Despite this his aforementioned dynamism and ability to make things happen is an asset to Liverpool and does make him exciting to watch. If Liverpool want to get the best out of him perhaps a change of tactics or personnel is required as he clearly does not favour being used as a sole striker for Liverpool and without an inform target man, or out and out forward he struggles to operate in his less preferred role as the lone striker. Much of his success at intentional level revolves around playing off Forlan rather than being the furthest man forward. For Liverpool to get the best out of him they’ll need to invest in a new out and out forward or somehow reinvigorate Carroll.