IF, as Roberto di Matteo contends, Liverpool are Chelsea’s bogey team, then surely Luis Suarez is the bogeyman of the entire Premier League.
How else to describe the extraordinary Uruguayan as he continues to drag the Anfield outfit kicking and screaming into the Brendan Rodgers era?
The Northern Irishman was effusive in his praise of Suarez ahead of yesterday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, warning of the nightmares the striker can inflict on opposing defenders.
Chelsea, both mentally and physically, were on the receiving end of the Liverpool forward, whose equaliser earned the visitors a point that, for much of the preceding 72 minutes, seemed as likely as sympathy from the travelling support for the stricken John Terry, earlier stretchered off after an accidental collision with Suarez.
That’s 11 for the season for the Uruguayan, who has scored eight of their 14 Premier League goals and contributed two assists.
Suarez, over-burdened as he is, cannot do it all by himself, however. And both his team-mates and manager deserve their share of the credit for such a remarkable transformation in fortunes yesterday.
So out of sorts were Liverpool for the opening hour that only Chelsea’s wasteful finishing had kept them in a game in which they were deservedly behind to Terry’s avoidable 20th-minute opener.
Rodgers, though, saw the error of his ways. And having switched from a restrictive and rarely convincing three-man defence to a more conventional flat back four, the Liverpool manager was rewarded with a much-improved performance that could ultimately have snatched all three points.
That possibly would have been a bit too much. The facts are Liverpool have won only two of their first 11 league games and languish in 13th place, eight points adrift of the Champions League qualification places.
But the manner of this point – continuing Liverpool’s excellent recent record at Stamford Bridge – and the character of the comeback will provide a significant shot of self-belief in the raft of new players and youngsters who have on occasion started to waver under the weight of their increased responsibilities in recent weeks.
While Suarez prospered, so Fernando Torres, the former darling of the Kop, once again suffered, now yet to beat Liverpool in five attempts since departing almost two years ago.
Yet for an hour, it appeared the Spaniard would end that drought as Liverpool’s midfield – Joe Allen overpowered, Nuri Sahin anonymous, Steven Gerrard on the periphery – were constantly outmanoeuvred by di Matteo’s side.
But with Jamie Carragher, making his first Premier League start of the season in place of the ill Martin Skrtel, helping gradually negate Torres, Liverpool belatedly worked their way into the game, the much-maligned Jose Enrique posting his most impressive performance for some time while the impressive Glen Johnson revelled against his former club.