Why I'd still rather defend against Suarez than depend on him…

So here we are again about to face a striker we almost signed in the summer, and hands are wringing over the form he’s in. I speak, of course, of Luis Suarez, scorer of six league goals in four appearances, a rate that would have him score 57 times in a season. That might be just enough to pencil him in as a Golden Boot candidate—except for the fact that he’s already missed five league

matches (and one League Cup match), and he’s all but certain to miss more. More pertinently, he’s feasted on some rather feeble defenses while all but disappearing in the only match of note in which he’s appeared, a 1-0 loss to Man U in the League Cup’s third round. Therefore, while all of the talk centers around his “fantastic” return, and of his partnering with Daniel Sturridge, a peek under the hood suggests that he’s still more style than substance, and as such, we shouldn’t lament missing out on his signing even if he does net against us on Saturday.

First, the League Cup match. Yes, it was “only” the League Cup. However, it was his first appearance since biting Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic in April of last season. He surely circled this date on his calendar as one on which he could signal his return in style. However, he fizzled, taking eight shots, putting only one on target, and failing to score. Before you cluck your tongue and say, “well, yes, but what kind of lineup did Liverpool send out to support him?”, I’ll point out that it looks to be much the same lineup as the one we’ll face on Saturday. On top of that, Liverpool had previously beaten Man U without Suarez, a point I’ll return to in a minute. Long story short: he failed to deliver in a match that mattered. It was his return from an infamous ban, it was against a high-profile opponent, and it was a chance to help his team advance in the League Cup. He had to know that it would be vital for him to shine, and on all counts, he failed.

To take a broader view, his statistics are admittedly gaudy. He’s needed only 23 shots to net six goals in four appearances for a conversion rate of 26%. However, he’s done so against Sunderland, Crystal Palace, Newcastle, and West Brom, a slate of teams that sport a collective -33 goal-differential. He’s yet to prove that he can deliver against a team that can actually defend. Even against Man U (“only five teams have conceded more goals than us”), he’s failed to find the net. He’s a chucker. He keeps shooting and shooting until, eventually, something goes in. Unless it doesn’t.

I mentioned a return to the two Liverpool-Man U matches. In the first, a 1-0 win for Liverpool, five players combined for nine shots, an intriguing show of democracy (not that democracy is crucial for winning). In the second, a 0-1 loss for Liverpool, five players combined for 17 shots—but eight of those were taken by Suarez. To contrast the two matches, which is about as direct a comparison as we can get given the sample-size, we have on one hand a 1-0 win from nine shots taken and a 0-1 loss from seventeen shots taken. The variable between the two is Suarez’s eight shots. I won’t claim  that there’s a direct, causal relationship there, but it’s intriguing. While he’s racked up that glitzy 26% conversion rate, it’s only a matter of time before he reverts to the mean, a career-conversion rate of somewhere in the 12% range. For perspective, this is a conversion rate for which we lambasted Giroud last year, yet he cost a fraction—perhaps 1/4th—of what Suarez might’ve cost.

With all of this in mind, it’s still possible that Suarez will do some damage on Saturday. He’s volatile. This cuts in two ways. On one hand, he could go for a second hat-trick in as many games. On the other, he could implode, racistly abusing or biting someone on his way to yet another ban of ten games or more. I just can’t tolerate these mood-swings; I’d much prefer someone who delivers on a more-consistent basis, without the diving, the racism, the biting, and all the rest. Is that too much to ask?

Last but not least, the drum-beat continues. I’m proud to say that I’m one of six finalists in the Football Blogging Awards’ “Best New Blogs” category. I’m up against some heavy-hitting, broad-spectrum sites that cover a little of everything, so I hope Gooners will cast their ballots in one (or more) of the following ways:

Thanks, as always for your visit. ‘Til tomorrow..

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13 thoughts on “Why I'd still rather defend against Suarez than depend on him…

  1. Anonymous

    Very interesting way of looking at it.But at the end of the day you can only score against the teams you play, so by not actually playing anyone that has defended well it cant be helped that he hasn't scored against.The conversion rate is a little concerning for suarez but i guess aslong as hes getting enough shots to score its not a real problem (until he doesnt score lol)

  2. Anonymous

    I'm afraid you've massively missed the point as to what Suarez contributes and you can't have really watched him play. Your logic is also all over the place. Firstly you're trying to belittle the evidence of his 6 in 4 so far as being the work of a flat track bully. You extrapolate that he'd be on for 57 goals if he kept this up. So if his performance over a season drops off my a massive 50% as he faces tougher opponents he'd still finish on 28/29 goals. Not exactly a meagre haul.Regardless of such silliness he's clearly a world class player and in the worlds top 5 right now. His genius is that he makes half of his goals himself. From nothing. Then there's the bits where he beats a defence single handedly and lays one on a plate for a team mate.Against man Utd away, he was entitled at the very least to be a bit ring rusty. What with it being his first league game in a long while. He wasn't though. He was great. Trying the impossible , setting up chances for Sturridge, and hitting the bar with a free kick.Of course failing to score at old Trafford is a major black mark. Who else fails to net there down the years. It's like a gift of ground for strikers everywhere.Yeah, Suarez has been a disciplinary risk (to put it mildly) for a while now , but ( touch wood) he never ever gets injured. You boys would tear your souls to have him in your team. Thank fully you never will……and may the best team win (well, LFC I mean) 😉

  3. Anonymous

    well u said that liverpool played the mediocre teams in which he scored..he dint score only,he outclassed them compeletely..not only suarez bt the whole team outclassed the opponents(nt against newcastle though :P)..the same teams arsenal struggled against(west brom n crystal palace) if u watched these matches..in this match u dun ve flamini , the player who [played a very important role in arsenals victories providing the shield n giving others freedom to move forward..with his absence the midfield dint look that strong..n in this match we r getting coutinho back ..he doesnt focus on scoring bt his passes are genius(if u saw him playing)..well yes i know arsenal is a very good team n it will be a match of the evening(they ll ve home advantage)..best of luck 🙂

  4. Anonymous

    If Arsenal had Suarez in their ranks they would have let go of Giroud. You still have a mediocritic striker like Giroud who's quality is a quarter of Suarez's quality and you still try to downgrade Suarez. On saturday let the best team win. You've been like Ozil, Ozil how many big teams has he played? None. Every genius is crazy as they do the unthinkable in the world. And that is what Suarez is. He is a professional with a very resilient and win, win mentality and therefore would do anything at anytime to win. If it means sacrificing himself. Have you heard the saying that goes “a win is always a win irrespective of how it was achieved” so my gooner friend, I appreciate your democratic expression of your view. But the 90 minutes on the pitch would decide.

  5. Anonymous

    Your talking shit suarez betta than any1in your team ozil 40mil give it a rest neva be near suarez

  6. Anonymous

    Blogging award!!!! Are you serious???Very deluded, biased and sour grapes kind of journalism.Just what have you been smoking at the Emirates? 😉

  7. Anonymous

    well said. I could never take away from Suarez's goal-scoring ability. He's been lethal, no doubt. Even had he scored today, I prefer not to have him. My flaw may have been in (a) finishing a bottle of wine while writing into the wee hours and (b) trying too hard to make something of the statistics. I'm happy we didn't sign him (and regret the absurdity of the bid itself; the “and 1” seemed a slap in the face more than a bid). I worry that he'd do something silly again and draw a long, long suspension. Long story short, I just don't like the guy, and not in that “hate him when he's against you, love him when he's for you” kind of way. At any rate, thanks for the visit and mannered rebuke!

  8. Anonymous

    Thanks, all, for your visits. Don't know what to think of the idea that there are so many mugsmashers commenting, to be honest, and I wish I could disable the “anonymous” comments if only so commenters could see when there's been a reply. Ah well. We came away with a 2-0 win, thank God, on a day when both teams had their chances. We'll see each other again soon enough…

  9. Anonymous

    It would appear that the Liverpudlians all came out before game time to vent their anger. Obviously it is much quieter now that the match has ended and their hero could only hit the framework.I suspect that they are overvaluing Suarez and undervaluing Ozil. One might, however, wonder how well Luis would fare under Wenger's wing or tutelage or whether the Gunners might be just as well off with another striker when and if Luis chooses to try to leave once more.While I hope that Arsenal can do as well in their upcoming CL matches and when they meet the two Manchester teams, Chelsea or Spurs in the BPL, I suspect that much like the possibility that MU may have, unhappily and unfortunately, turned the corner, Liverpool may have come to the point today of not being to survive the rarified air near the top of the table and are now going to descend to the appropriate level below the top five

  10. Anonymous

    I think you're right. Liverpool have a narrow window for success–pummeling inferior opponents is one thing, but their attack depends so exclusively on Suarez/Sturridge that a disciplined defensive effort can negate them, and there's little anyone else can go to lift the team. I think they'll stumble and then Suarez is going do something foolish to again force Liverpool to sell him on.


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