Brendan Rodgers has acclaimed Luis Suarez’s influence on his Liverpool teammates ahead of Saturday’s meeting with West Brom. Suarez scored an outstanding four goals in the 5-1 victory over Norwich City on Wednesday, but Rodgers was quick to point out not just the Uruguayan’s individual brilliance, but how he inspires those around him.
“People always talk about someone being a great player,” he said, according to Liverpool’s official website. “The only way I can define a great player is when he makes the others around him better.
"You have many good players, many really talented players , but the best in anything, whatever sport it is, the greatest ones will always make the others around them better. That's what Luis Suarez does. He's a great player, he inspires others.
“Let's hope he can keep producing, he's a very important player, great for this league and obviously it's a pleasure to work with him here at Liverpool.”
All eyes are sure to be centered on Suarez even more than usual at Anfield this weekend after Friday’s World Cup draw saw Uruguay put in a group with England. But the immediate focus will be on trying to ensure that Liverpool’s array of internationals head to the World Cup being able to look forward to a return of Champions League action to Anfield next season.
Having recovered in emphatic fashion from last week’s disappointing defeat to Hull City, Liverpool remain in fourth place, but only sit above their Merseyside neighbors Everton on goal difference. Rodgers has no new injury concerns heading into the weekend, with Daniel Sturridge ruled out until the New Year with an ankle injury.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce has much bigger problems. The striker signed from Liverpool this summer, Andy Carroll, remains on the sidelines and, although he is now back in training, Allardyce refuses to rush him back before he is fully ready.
“Like everything else, we'll get him back as quick as we possibly can, but my position is to take a sensible view,” he said, according to West Ham’s official website. “We're in a difficult position at the minute but I can't panic into putting Andy in too quickly. It's my responsibility to make sure he is there to stay when he comes back onto the field, and not just one or two games.”
In Carroll’s absence, West Ham have suffered considerably. Having failed to sign adequate cover in the summer, Allardyce has experimented playing without a striker to largely poor results, while in a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace on Tuesday Carlton Cole was handed his first Premier League start since he was re-signed on a short-term deal in October.
The loss to Palace leaves West Ham just three points clear of the relegation zone. And, against Liverpool, they will be deprived of one of their few shining lights of the season so far, Ravel Morrison. The England Under-21 midfielder is suspended after collecting his fifth booking of the campaign for his temperamental reaction after the final whistle at Selhurst Park.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off from Anfield at 10 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBC’s Premier League Extra time, with a live stream available on NBC Sports Live Extra.