28 goals this season. Having a hand in around another 17 goals. All within 26 games. These are undeniably interesting stats for a man banned for the first four games of this season and was subject to a £40million + £1.00 (yes you read the decimal point right) bid by Arsenal last summer. That fee looks a bargain now had those stats been had Luis Suarez actually been donning the Gunners’ kit this season. Arsene Wenger’s men would probably way ahead at the top past Chelsea and Manchester City. But such has Suarez’s form been for Liverpool this season that Tottenham Hotspurs’ defender Jan Vertonghen has come up and claimed that Brendan Rodgers’ side would be mid-table if not for the Uruguayan’s brilliance.
Maybe Vertonghen is right. Let’s look at the stats.
Under the most simplistic assumptions, had Suarez’s goals not been counted this season, all 28 of them, Liverpool would have had 13 points lesser than they do right now. The Reds would have 52 points, sit on 7th place (still higher than Manchester United by a point), and just 4 points behind Spurs.
Liverpool would have suffered draws at home to West Bromwich Albion, Norwich City and Cardiff City. Without Suarez, these draws seems to be the story of the Liverpool of the past two seasons, unable to get past ‘lesser’ opposition at Anfield. With Suarez, they simply thumped them with emphatic score lines.
Liverpool wouldn’t have won at the Britannia, Stadium of Light — both notoriously tough places for the Reds to go to — or against Cardiff last Saturday. They would have also lost to Everton in the first Merseyside derby of the season.
Just four points behind Spurs.
Let’s put it in perspective and look at it hypothetically. If Suarez’s supposed replacement(s), any whatsoever, had just 1/4 — one quarter — the impact Suarez had, say 7 goals in 26 games, maybe a joint effort from Fabio Borini and Iago Aspas, it would be difficult to argue against the possibility that Liverpool would still be ahead of Vertonghen’s Spurs.
Now let’s look at the goals that Suarez had a major involvement in, i.e. assists, was not counted as well. The Reds would, obviously, be even worse off, have another 13 points lesser. Rodgers’ side would have 39 points, in 10th ahead of Stoke but behind Southampton and Newcastle, and 17 points behind Spurs. So just by looking at this…
Maybe Vertonghen is right.
The Reds would have also suffered home draws to West Ham United, and lost to Norwich City, Swansea City, Cardiff City and Aston Villa at Anfield. They would also have lost at Cardiff last Saturday, suffered another loss at the Britannia and drew at St. Mary’s.
Besides the first four games in which Suarez was banned, the only other game where he had no involvement in any of the Reds’ goals was at Fulham. In these five games, Liverpool recorded 4 wins and a draw. Seeing that the first four games was at the start of the season, and that the win at Fulham was in February, this large separated period of time proves that Liverpool can do it without Suarez, physically and figuratively.
Maybe Vertonghen is right. Liverpool would be mid-table without Suarez’s goals and assists. But that’s what £40million, or even £90million, can buy for you, consistency and talent. Spurs thought they hit the jackpot when they sold Gareth Bale for a world record fee and got in almost £100million worth of talent.
But what they fail to recognise is, that you can’t manage in real life like how you might in Football Manager. Team chemistry, identity and cohesiveness is just as important as individual brilliant players.