The talk of Suarez to Arsenal has almost hit boiling point and, I’ll be honest, I’m bored of the moral debate on whether we should sign the Uruguayan or not. I respect people’s opinion and feel that if someone is brave enough to say on the record that they do or do not want a player of his ilk then fair play. Discuss your argument, give reasons for your belief but lets not turn on one another as this achieves nothing.
Rather than focus on his behaviour and previous indiscretions, I’d like to concentrate on what Suarez could bring to the team.
Firstly I think it’s plain for all to see that Suarez is one of the most versatile forwards in the league. He can play anywhere from the lone front man, to in the hole or even as a wing forward. He is good with both feet, possesses an amazing skill set and is a dogged worker which is something I really value in a forward.
I can see many positives in signing Suarez. His aggression and skill are at a level were he can become an exceptional lone front man. There are very few players in the premier league that have all the attributes to play this role. Drogba was of course one of these few individuals, his strength along with his undoubted skill made him a formidable opponent, one that usually kept both centre backs on their toes. Van Persie is also a fantastic lone front man due to his clinical shooting; given the ball in the right area he will test the keeper.
Suarez is a different style of player to both of these two but has a skill set that I believe would excel in the role. He is quick, an excellent dribbler, strong on the ball and excellent movement off it; his ability to drop off would be torture for centre backs who would not know whether to play a high line or drop deep and let him come on to them. His unpredictability also ensures that both centre backs need to play close together incase he beats one; this could be hugely beneficial for someone like Walcott who could exploit the space in between full back and centre back if they can strike up an understanding, something that I feel could happen given how quickly Sturridge and Suarez linked up at Liverpool.
This summer has seen a number of the Arsenal players coming forward welcome new signings, Podolski, Santi, Giroud amongst others. Whilst I think Santi could form a great partnership with any half decent striker in the league I am excited to see how Giroud and Suarez would play together. Most of us will know that we lacked any sort of plan B last year, or even a back up for Giroud when he was having an off game. I could see these two linking up well together; it of course would not be your typical little and large partnership, but I could see each player complimenting the other. Giroud’s hold up and link up play has certainly improved since last season. He played a lovely round the corner pass to Walcott last week in one of the Japanese games that really should have saw Walcott score. Suarez and Giroud would offer a strong and quick forward line that would preoccupy the oppositions players hopefully freeing up runners from our midfield and allowing space on the wings for Podolski, Walcott and Cazorla to cause havoc.
I think one of the biggest selling points for Wenger is Suarez’s work rate. He presses high up the pitch, something that we only really do when Rosicky is playing for us. This helps to set the tempo and gives the opposition little time to settle; it helps us to win the ball higher up the pitch and once we win possession I feel confident that we can retain the ball in the hope of creating a goal scoring opportunity.
Suarez also plays with a bit of bite (excuse the use of language). He isn’t afraid to get stuck in which will hopefully lift the players on their inevitable off days. On a few occasions last year it was left to Jack to lift the squad; as witnessed in the Swansea game, where he practically dragged the team by the scruff of the neck. We need this sort of determination to win.
Finally, one of Suarez’s best attributes is his unpredictability. We haven't had a player who could really change a game on his own since Henry. You could argue Cesc or RvP, but for me we haven't had anyone who could do it regularly since TH. I think Suarez could win you games single handedly, he is a great scorer of goals and a scorer of great goals. He has the ability to take it past 3 players and slot it past the keeper or put it on a plate for someone else (as long as that someone else isn't Gervinho).
Of course, it would be very one sighted of me just to look at the positives. In order to get a proper view of the situation I need to unfortunately look at some of Suarez’s failings.
A big concern of mine is his reputation (rightly or wrongly) with referees. Given his past conduct, we may find referees unwilling to give frees or pens if Suarez is involved. This could also extend to his relationship with the FA, if Suarez finds himself with another ban for whatever reason, the FA may come down harder on him (something that I think is only fair given his past indiscretions and inability to learn). If this is the case, it will be Arsenal who will suffer more than anyone else.
Another concern is his ball hogging reputation; sometimes he likes to do it on his own, which given that Wenger likes a team possession game could disrupt our passing philosophy. I should state at this point that I don’t think this is the case, I see Suarez playing in a Messi style role, allowed to take the ball on and dribble past defenders whilst his team mates keep the ball and tire the opposition through possession.
Lastly, I would be concerned about the thoughts of our own players such as Walcott, Sagna, Gervinho etc when they see Suarez coming. I think we have a group of young men who all get on very well with each other. Suarez is obviously a divisive figure among fans and opposition players but the Liverpool players all supported him after the Evra incident, one of which was Glen Johnson. I do not know the relationship with the players, whose idea it was to wear the “support Suarez” t-shirts but I just wonder if any of our players will hold resentment towards him. I’m sure Wenger would have discussed this or had an idea about what the reaction would be so I will not worry too much, I just hope that everything is in place so that the players will get a teammate that they will welcome rather than have preordained feelings towards him. Not something that I think will hinder a deal but something to bear in mind.
Overall I feel Suarez is a player who could really achieve something with Arsenal on the pitch. He has attributes which I admire and a tenacity which would maybe bring the best out of some of our players.
Mean Lean's Response
I've made my feelings clear on Suarez and how much I dislike what I've seen as a Liverpool player, not the player of course but his behaviour. I haven't really spoken about the player, I guess I will wait until he signs for us. Liverpool could dig their heels in and I wouldn't expect Arsenal to pay ridiculous Gareth Bale style money for the player to get him. So there is a chance that this could still fall through.
One thing is for sure, Luis Suarez would be a better player under a manager who likes to give attacking players a fluid freedom to express themselves, and has a history of doing so. Arsene has yet to buy a forward so far into his potential with scope to improve. Luis Suarez would become a better player and he would also make Cazorla, Wilshere and Ramsey more influential players with his fantastic off the ball movement. Movement that we lacked since Robin van Hey Guys left.
I expect this to become another Arshavin saga. Wait until deadline day and it will be a case of who blinks first. Do Liverpool risk having to keep an unhappy player on their hands, one that is banned for the first six games or do they sell to a rival for less than they want?
Another month of this one to go I reckon.