Luis Suarez proves an instant Kop hit
WERE you watching Fernando? That particular chant didn’t rain down from the Anfield stands last night, but it was certainly in everyone’s mind as replacement £22.8m frontman Luis Suarez made a jubilant goal-scoring debut.
If anyone had any doubts how the Reds would cope with life after Torres, this was the definitive answer.
Who needs a sulky £50m striker when Luis Suarez needs just 16 minutes to notch his first strike in a Red shirt?
And with the smiling £35m man Andy Carroll sitting in the stands and raring to go, Liverpool’s striking options suddenly look extremely rosy.
Despite losing their once idolised Spaniard, it is abundantly clear there is life beyond the departed El Nino.
Liverpool have now recorded three consecutive league victories, and all of a sudden the chance of Champions League slot is an outside possibility.
The feelgood factor is definitely back at Anfield, and buoyed by the knowledge they remain a power in English football, able to attract big-money players to the club, the Reds’ stock is visibly on the rise.
This wasn’t a straightforward victory by any means as Stoke proved tough and uncompromising opponents, particularly in the first half.
But once Raul Meireles had smashed home just after the break there was only one winner, and the Suarez clincher was the icing on the cake.
Liverpool move six points behind fifth placed Tottenham and they will look forward to Chelsea and enemy number one Torres on Sunday with relish.
Surprises have been the name of the game since Kenny Dalglish took over at Anfield.
So, it was perhaps true to form that the Scot pulled another rabbit out the hat when the Liverpool team-sheet was unveiled last night.
With right winger Kuyt the only striking option in the line-up, left back Aurelio playing in central midfield, and three central defenders, it didn’t appear an attack-minded line up in a week which has seen forwards dominate the headlines at Anfield.
But who said anything about the need to be conventional?
Dalglish’s selection was vindicated after a battling first 45 minutes saw Liverpool cut loose in a more adventurous second half display.