Monday, April 22, 2013

Suarez shows his ugly side once again

The good, the bad and the ugly sides of Luis Suarez were on show again on Sunday as the Liverpool striker bit the arm of a Chelsea defender before scoring a late equalier to rescue a 2-2 draw for his team.

Television replays showed Suarez sink his teeth into the forearm of Serbian defender Branislav Ivanovic as they tussled for the ball in the penalty area with Liverpool trailing 2-1 in the Premier League game.

Referee Kevin Friend appeared not to see the 66th-minute incident but Suarez - who once served a seven-match ban for biting an opponent in the Netherlands while with Ajax - faces a suspension once his moment of madness is reviewed.

The Football Association confirmed it would begin an investigation on Monday morning, beginning with talking to Friend to find out whether he had witnessed the incident.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers and Chelsea's interim boss Rafa Benitez were reluctant to talk about it, but Suarez's action was condemned by pundits, including former Liverpool captain Graeme Souness.

"I'm not sure what to make of it," Souness told Sky Sports. "Embarrassing. He's making it very difficult for himself to stay at Liverpool, that puts him in the last-chance saloon.

"Most important is safeguarding the good name of the football club. Liverpool are world renowned. People will be talking about this for a long, long time, and it will show Liverpool in a very bad light.

"This is not the first time he has bitten someone in the football match.

"There are lines you just can't cross, and he has crossed it today. Those pictures will be beamed across the world. It's very difficult for Brendan Rodgers to defend him."

Fellow pundit Jamie Redknapp, another former Liverpool player, added: "He obviously has a big problem. He has that madness gene in him, and what he did today was indefensible.

"What is he doing? Why would you want to take a chunk out of someone's arm on a football field?"

Controversy has followed Suarez since he joined Liverpool from Ajax in January 2011, but the latest incident comes at a particularly poignant time for Liverpool, close to the anniversary of the Hillsbrough tragedy in which 96 of their fans were crushed to death at a 1989 FA Cup semi-final.

Suarez served an eight-match ban for racially abusing Manchester United's Patrice Evra last season and later angered United manager Alex Ferguson by failing to shake the French defender's hand before their league match in February last year.

The 26-year-old has also regularly been accused of diving and this season hit the headlines for scoring a goal in the FA Cup against minor-league Mansfield after committing a handball.

Yet despite the baggage, Suarez has been one of the best strikers to grace the Premier League.

His headed equaliser against Chelsea was his 23rd Premier League goal of the season, taking him two clear of Robin van Persie in the scoring charts.

He is in the running to win the PFA Player of the Year award, making a six-man shortlist for the prestigious prize.

On Sunday his brilliance was there for all to see.

The cross that allowed Daniel Sturridge to equalise was inch-perfect, and the way he dispatched his late header past Petr Cech showed the mark of a world-class striker.

Yet in the same match he gave away a penalty with a handball before showing his dark side with the Mike Tyson-esque chomp on Ivanovic's arm.

"The only comment at this stage is that we'll review the video of (the incident), then I'll make a comment after," Rodgers, who has stood by Suarez, said.

He added on Liverpool's website: "This is a club with incredible values and ethics here. We'll review it as a club, because there's certainly no one bigger than this football club, a player or manager."

"I have just come in from the game. Once I've looked at that and reviewed it we'll make a comment then. Until I review it I can't speak totally on it."

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard said after the game that Suarez was "the third best player in the world behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo", but the club's former defender Mark Lawrenson, now a BBC pundit, said the Uruguayan's talent came with a price.

"He's a world-class player but he gives you world-class trouble," he said.

"If the Football Association decide to take retrospective action, and it's clearcut, then Suarez will be in big trouble."