Nearly seven hours of play without a goal—it's fairly indicative of the quality and consistency of Luis Suarez and his all-round contribution to Liverpool's play. Even on his recent "goal drought," there was nobody bothered about him not hitting the back of the net.
412 - Luis Suarez's goal at St Mary's ends a run of six hours and 52 minutes without a Premier League goal. Barren.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 1, 2014
It's also indicative of his form and quality; he was still the one contributing the most to Liverpool's attack. He still has a strike record of better than a goal per game this season—even after a few games without a goal.
In the four league games since his previous goal, a solo run and finish in the 4-0 win over Everton, Suarez has still created 14 chances and claimed four assists, meaning he is now top of both the scoring and the assists charts for the Premier League season.
Now, at the beginning of March, Liverpool are somewhat caught between two races to the end of the season: their original objective, that of finishing in the top four, and that which everyone associated with the club only half-dares to half-refer to—the Premier League title fight.
The Reds are now nine points clear of Tottenham Hotspur in fifth—but Tottenham have a game in hand. Reduce that back down to six, and it's still far from cut and dried that Liverpool will land a Champions League spot just yet. There is also the unlikely, yet still possible, threat of Manchester United winning the competition itself to take England's fourth spot next year.
However, following a weekend where Arsenal lost and Manchester City didn't play, Liverpool's 3-0 win at Southampton has moved the Reds up to second place in the league table, four points off the top and with leaders Chelsea still to come to Anfield. It inevitably puts the Reds looking at being involved.
A big test in a title fight is never far away, of course. Liverpool's next game is one that could really fuel the fires of their dreams, or else derail them somewhat if complacency or calamity strikes: a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United.
As a side note, if Liverpool win that game, they will be between 14 and 17 points clear of their rivals in mid-March. It has been a long time since anything even approaching those numbers has been the case, and that as much as anything might give the Reds cause to think they can actually go the distance this year.
But so can one player in particular—and we're back to Suarez.
Forget Fernando Torres at his peak. Forget Michael Owen as a blistering teenager. Suarez is on another level to them both. He's had 62 league goals in 100 league games. This is Robbie Fowler territory.
If Liverpool are to go all the way, it is likely to be the Uruguayan, their majestic and unstoppable No. 7, who can make the deficiencies in the team—and title fight or not, there remain plenty—mere annoyances and road bumps along the route to another 4-3 win.
Suarez's movement, ability to beat defenders, non-stop aggression in and out of possession and his tactical flexibility—on Saturday as part of a two-man attack again, last week a lone striker, before that a winger—make him not only an asset for Liverpool, but a threat that the opposition simply cannot plan for every eventuality.
He is a playmaker, a creator, a goalscorer and a defender from the front.
There is nobody in the Premier League like him, not for ability, consistency or the way they have delivered non-stop in the 2013-14 season. He missed the first five games and still leads the way in both goals and assists.
Liverpool might not yet go on and lift the title; they are still only third-place favourites at best, even fourth behind Arsenal for some viewers. But with Suarez in their ranks, they are never beaten in any given game.
Liverpool are the most in-form team in the league, and they have the division's best player in their attack. With 10 league games to go, they are very much in this season's title fight.
Bring on Old Trafford.
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