Liverpool have had a rollercoaster ride of it in 2013 but which single moment defines the year for the Reds?
Does the 1-0 win over United at Anfield top either of these two?
5-0 at White Hart Lane
Earlier this month Liverpool showed their exceptional quality, their desire and their resilience in securing a sensational result at a ground they have recently struggled at.
Achieved even without captain Steven Gerrard and striker Daniel Sturridge – the performances of Jordan Henderson and Joe Allen were superb. The whole team were fantastic but what that moment demonstrated is that Liverpool can beat top clubs and beat them in the same fashion as the likes of Manchester City – in fact of all the top clubs, the Reds have come the closest to getting a result at the Etihad.
That result at Tottenham showed how far Rodgers’ players have come as individuals and as a unit and how much they’re enjoying playing their football under his leadership. Lest we forget how long its been since everything was going well and the players were enjoying themselves, expressing themselves in that manner. It’s a shift in attitude – you can feel the belief and the positivity that was present in that game and that’s what they musttake with them into the New Yar.
Suarez signs new deal
Also this month, Luis Suarez has signed a massive new contract to keep him at Anfield until 2018 on a wage approaching £200,000 a week. Liverpool have in the space of 12 months of 2013 gone from being an underachieving club insecure about losing its players to a club and a team with drive and ambition and the means to achieve its objectives.
Luis Suarez wants to stay at Liverpool and he’s never been in better form – he’s enjoying being at Anfield – and he’s not the only one either. There’s belief that the Reds are moving in the right direction under Rodgers instead of the reservations that were still palpable back at the start of the year over his leadership. Liverpool have in this one moment when Suarez put pen to paper achieved the realisation of the very concept they’ve been striving for to no avail since Rafael Benitez left and probably prior to that: they have stability.
They have stability at the top and they have stability in their best assets and they have stability in their system and philosophy and that has been clear in their consistency and progress as individuals and as a team.
Suarez’ newly signed contract is more than a scrap of paper, it’s a departure from the past and a commitment to the future – it’s not just a commitment Suarez has made to the club but one the club has made to itself and its future, and achieving success.
Which moment would you pick?
Liverpool legend Ian Rush has insisted that Luis Suarez is worth £100m after the Uruguayan international’s prolific run this season.
The 26-year-old had publicly expressed his desire to leave the Merseyside club in the summer and was subjected to multiple bids from Arsenal. However, Liverpool chiefs were successful in keeping their star player at the club, who has been a key man for Brendan Rodgers’s side this season.
Suarez has 19 goals and five assists from 13 league appearances this season and is the leading scorer in the Premier League. The Uruguayan internationalsigned a new four and a half year deal at Anfield earlier this month.
The former Ajax man was made the captain in the absence of Steven Gerrard’s injury and Rush has hailed his leadership skills on the pitch.
“If you did sell Suarez you are talking about a fee of £100m. He has made a huge difference. As well as scoring goals, he has been making them,” Rush said, as quoted in the Express.
“To make him captain in Steven Gerrard’s absence was a great decision by Rodgers. He’s not a selfish player. Look at the goal he set up for Raheem Sterling against Cardiff. That’s what I like about him – he plays for the team.”
Suarez missed the early part of this season as he was serving a 10- match ban for biting Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic last term. The former Swansea manager claims the incident has transformed the striker’s Liverpool career.
Rush has insisted that Suarez is ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona star Lionel Messi as the former Liverpool striker claims the Premier League is the toughest league in the world.
“Suarez is unbelievable. What I am saying now is he is the best player in the world. People talk about Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi but they are not playing regularly through injuries right now in Spain. Suarez is, and he is doing it in the hardest league in the world,” Rush stressed.
“I thought last season he and Gareth Bale were the two best players in the Premier League. You wondered whether that might be just a one-off for Suarez but he is even better now. He has taken his football to a different level.”
Suarez is likely to face Ivanovic for the first time after the incident when Liverpool make a trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Sunday.
Liverpool and Luis Suarez, the Premier League’s top scorer, face Chelsea for the first time since the star striker picked up a ten-match ban for biting Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic in April.
Far from being billed as Jaws 2, this encounter will be a serious test of both sides’ title credentials as they sit next to one another in the top four. Chelsea have won only one of their last five meetings with the Reds at Stamford Bridge to boot.
This pits Blues boss Jose Mourinho against protégé Brendan Rodgers for the first time in Premier League history, and the Special One stirred the pot when he suggested Liverpool could become champions.
Chelsea have not been finishing teams off in recent weeks. Their last five wins in all competitions have all come by the odd goal. Compelling evidence of Blues profligacy is indifferent form – a Capital One Cup quarter final loss at Sunderland, a bore draw against Arsenal and edging past Swansea on Boxing Day.
Rodgers’s Reds saw their run of four successive and impressive victories come to an end on Thursday when Manchester City came from behind at the Etihad. Suarez, for all his controversy, has 19 goals in a dozen Premier League games and will be the main danger.
Mourinho will rotate the Chelsea squad once again for this home game. England pair Gary Cahill and Frank Lampard should return alongside Spanish pair Cesar Azpilicueta and Fernando Torres, who faces his former club.
Blues midfielder Ramires serves a ban after picking up a fifth domestic booking last time out. Club captain John Terry is likely to make his 600th appearance, but fellow defenders Ashley Cole and David Luiz should drop to the bench.
Liverpool are definitely missing skipper Steven Gerrard and striker Daniel Sturridge whilst fullback Jose Enrique remains out. Rodgers could keep faith with the same XI that started the Manchester City defeat as Jon Flanagan is still doubtful with a hamstring problem.
On-loan Reds winger Victor Moses is ineligible against his parent club, so Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho will continue in the wide positions.
Chelsea: 1 Petr Cech, 2 Branislav Ivanovic, 24 Gary Cahill, 26 John Terry, 28 Cesar Azpilicueta, 12 John Obi Mikel, 8 Frank Lampard, 14 Andre Schurrle, 11 Oscar, 17 Eden Hazard, 9 Fernando Torres 4-2-3-1
Liverpool: 22 Simon Mignolet, 2 Glen Johnson, 37 Martin Skrtel, 17 Mamadou Sakho, 20 Aly Cissokho, 21 Lucas Leiva, 24 Joe Allen, 31 Raheem Sterling, 14 Jordan Henderson, 10 Philippe Coutinho, 7 Luis Suarez 4-2-3-1
The incident last April caused uproar and calls for The Reds to sell Suarez in the upcoming summer transfer window after a second major controversy since his move to the Premier League.
But Liverpool kept faith and have been rewarded with Suarez having scored 20 league goals since his return from the ban and following a summer during which he stated he wanted to leave the club.
Suarez will come face-to-face with Ivanovic for the first time since the flare-up on Sunday as Liverpool travel to Chelsea in the Premier League but Rodgers doesn’t fear a confrontation between the two players.
“I don’t think there’s anything else there,” Rodgers told reporters.
“They spoke after it and it was cleared up back then. I think it will probably end up proving to be a turning point in Luis’ career.
“He’s been brilliant on his return both on and off the field so I do not expect any backlash from that.”
The Boxing Day defeat to Manchester City saw Liverpool slip to fourth in the Premier League, a point behind Chelsea and three behind leaders Arsenal.
Having lost to both Arsenal and City on the road this season, the trip to Chelsea is Liverpool’s next opportunity to flex their title muscle against one of their closest rivals.
Midfielder Lucas Leiva says Liverpool must use the game to reignite their title challenge.
“Of course everyone was really disappointed that we never got the three points, or at least a point. Everyone could see that we really went to win the game.” the Brazilian said.
“I think we played some fantastic football. Maybe we felt a little bit unlucky with some of the decisions. If they were for us, not against us, it would have been a different result. We had some chances to score.
“Overall, it was a positive performance but of course we are disappointed because we lost. Now we have to move on – we have another big game and it becomes even more important after the defeat the other night.”
Flanagan has impressed this season at left-back having come in for the injured Jose Enrique, but the 20-year-old said that having made his debut two years ago he thought his chance had gone.
“With all the players that were in front of me I thought that I was never going to get a chance,” Sky Sports News quotes Flanagan as saying. “That’s hard for me to admit because I’m a Liverpool fan and I’m desperate to be a Liverpool player but I also had to be realistic and at that time that was the way I saw it.
“It was tough. I’d had a couple of injuries and I was working hard but an opportunity wasn’t really opening up for me.
“I had a couple of chances to go out on loan but I didn’t think they were right for me and my development so I just stuck at it and waited for my chance.”