Luis Suarez Threatens to Stall Liverpool’s Progress With Poorly-Timed Antics

Luis Suarez Threatens to Stall Liverpool's Progress With Poorly-Timed AnticsFacts: Liverpool FC has a better chance of winning soccer games when Luis Suarez is in the lineup. His on-field misbehavior could sideline him for a significant portion of its season.

He could face FA punishment for giving the middle finger to taunting Fulham fans as he left the field at Craven Cottage on Monday. Liverpool is entering a stretch of the season where it faces a number of teams it should beat, and the Reds are depending on him as the focal point of their attack.

"We know from experience how important December and January can be in terms of the title race and your position in the league," Pepe Reina told LFC magazine last week. "We have to push now more than ever."

The club has a clear mission for the 2011-12 season, which is to achieve a top-four finish in the English Premier League and qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League. There may be no more important player to that quest than "El Pistolero."

The Uruguayan has not even spent a year in English soccer and — although he is widely recognized as a star player — already faces three serious threats to his reputation. He is accused of being a cheat, a bigot and a vulgar man, and these charges stem from on-field incidents.

This is not the time or place to debate the merits of those charges. But if the FA proves any of those charges, Suarez could face both fines and a lengthy ban. His absence could do more to derail Liverpool's top-four hopes than anything else.

Suarez really should have picked a better time and place to lash out at his critics. With Lucas out for the season, Steve Gerrard on the mend and the Reds' attacking corps lacking sharpness in front of goal, Suarez may never be more important to Liverpool than he is at this very moment.

It's entirely possible that Liverpool will not play with the same fluidity without these key men in the midfield. That means it would rely on moments of individual genius to decide the outcome of games, and no one is more capable of producing them than Suarez.

His antics are also an unneeded distraction for the club. Kenny Dalglish has leapt to the LFC star's defense at every point, and teammates are supportive as well. Every second of their time and every ouce of energy would be better spent on improving as individuals and as a unit rather than discussing and defending the actions of the club's best player.

How significant a blow would it be for the club to miss out on next season's Champions League? That we do not know. But if Suarez is banned for his actions and Liverpool's results suffer because of his absence, he must assume responsibility for his role in the setback.

Yardbarker

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