Aside from the fact that Liverpool were dreadful for the first part of the season, what was most annoying about the fall was the cacophony of pundits who could not stop talking about Luis Suarez. If you were a fan of the man, then it was a painful reminder that Liverpool's leading scorer last season had departed to spend the remainder of his football ban in Spain; if you were not as enthusiastic, then it was unnecessary dwelling on someone who couldn't help Liverpool anyway, so stop talking about it already.
But as annoying as it was for fans, it was likely even more annoying for his ex-teammates who not only had to endure fans and pundits alike lamenting the Serbian snacker's defection but also had to find some way of compensating for it on the pitch.
"At the start of the year we talked about how losing Suarez was going to have an affect but now we have overcome that," wee Joe Allen said. "It took us a little bit of time to overcome that, because the injury problems we had were not ideal. We are certainly back up to that level and, if anything, with the different system we play this season we might even have taken a step forward."
It might be a bit premature to suggest Liverpool are in a better place, form-wise, than they were during the title chase run in last year that involved Suarez, but Allen's optimism is always welcome. That said, he isn't making excuses about the poor form from earlier in the season prior to the team honing in on some solutions to the Suarez-shaped hole in the line up.
"I don't think it was unfair," he said on the criticisms the team experienced. "There were no hiding places and we were not delivering as players. There were no excuses from us. We knew there might be a difficult patch early in the season and that probably went on longer than we hoped and expected. At the same time, we always knew we would come through it, and I think that was the biggest sign we would be where we are at this stage."
The season's early failures mean challenging for the Arsene Wenger Memorial Top Four trophy instead of the league title, but with as dire a start as Liverpool had, it's not a bad place to be. Two points off fourth place means that final Champions League qualification spot is absolutely up for grabs, but Liveprool will need to continue taking points off rivals to ensure they cling to that position like Tiberian bats.
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