For the second match in a row, we got a performance from Luis Suarez that was, on the whole, thoroughly enjoyable. His display in the derby win over Everton was undoubtedly boosted by the return of Steven Gerrard, but the creativity and work rate of the Uruguayan was integral in two of the captain's three goals. What made that and most of his work yesterday so fun to watch, though, was that there was also little left for interpretation with Suarez, which has been, at least personally, one of the more frustrating aspects of watching him this season.
I don't say that ironically or as some sort of ham-fisted attempt to allude to what went on with Patrice Evra earlier in the season. I think we're all ready to be done discussing that in any sort of detail. We can and certainly should continue the conversation about race and the importance of education and prevention when it comes to overt prejudice, discrimination, and racism.
That's not the point here, even though it is an objectively more important issue than "wow he turns and dribbles purty." Here we're talking about two consecutive performances during which Luis Suarez mostly just played football, which is something he's undeniably gifted at doing. That he received support from the midfield against Everton, as well as an active and engaged Andy Carroll (something he didn't have yesterday, unfortunately), made his display that much better, as it highlighted an aspect of his game that had been underutilized on the year.
Stoke presented a much different task, and at times he struggled to find the space and time that a lethargic Everton afforded him. But he made it count when he needed to, playing a quick one-two with Maxi from a withdrawn position, creating just enough space to wrap one around Robert Huth and past Thomas Sorensen. It was another moment of brilliance against a side he's grown to terrorize, which is no small feat considering the amount of pressure and physicality they throw his way. He didn't add to his tally, but his tireless work up front gave the Stoke back line fits, at least while they managed to stay on their feet before heading back to turf at the slightest hint of contact. The irony.
There's always going to be questions about his style of play---did he really need to go down? Didn't he just dive to get that penalty? Is he really hurt? And, after the events earlier this year, he's going to draw the ire of opposition supporters and many in the media regardless of how he goes about his business. We've seen it at every away ground so far, and visiting supporters to Anfield haven't been shy about voicing their dislike.
But for at least the past 180-odd minutes, we were able to watch Luis Suarez play without much hesitation or wondering, and it's been a far more enjoyable experience than watching him stumble and stutter and possibly try too hard. Long may it continue.
Video by Mostar