Luis Suárez vs Robin Van Persie: Two Artists At Work

Both rank among the world’s best

Debate after debate, valid point after another valid point, no one can manage to come to a clear indication as to who really is the best striker in the Premier League. This particularly bare shortlist can make the task at hand considerably easier in many aspects, as there is not much to look beyond bar Manchester United’s Flying Dutchman and Liverpool’s mercurial Uruguayan talisman. Both players have been in prolific form for all of the current campaign, and have been key to their sides’ respective successes, providing the killer instinct or the sucker punch needed to kill off opposition almost week-in and week-out for their employers.

In the form of his life

RVP has had a more-than stellar season so far for United, racking up 23 goals in all competitions, with 19 of these all-important goals aiding United’s inevitable 20th Premier League title quest. This is a trophy the former Emirates star is yet to add to his almost empty and dusty trophy cabinet, after spending the vast majority of his career at Arsenal who are now battling to stay in contention for a Champions League spot ahead of next season. In a Manchester side which has not always shone at times this season, Van Persie has always been there to lend a helping hand to his side, bagging a vital hat-trick against newly-promoted Southampton earlier in the season, spearheading one of many a masterclass of a comeback, something that has become the norm for the Old Trafford side this season. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side never give up hope, even when all is seemingly lost, and coming back from somewhat awkward positions during numerous games this season have become the Red Devil’s forté. A dynamite left-foot packaged with a cultured knack for set-pieces, a nicely-rounded striker to say the least. It is also a common misconception that the United powerhouse is clumsy with the ball at his feet. This could not be more wrong, and for a man of his stature, he is exceptional with the ball at his feet. £24 million for the Dutchman really does look to be a bargain now, eh?

The devastating Uruguayan is firing on all cylinders

On the other hand, Luis Suárez’ often-struggling Liverpool side have not lived up to the height of the exceedingly optimistic expectations held for them prior to the season’s kick-off, although they still have time to change their fortunes with a relatively straight-forward 11 game run in to the final day of the season. 25 goals in all competitions for ‘El Pistolero’ has seen him ranked and  compared among the most highly regarded players in the world, and it is very debatable that Suárez and Van Persie are the two of the best and most proven strikers in world football currently. Last season, the tricky Uruguayan was all-too susceptible to missing clear-cut goal-scoring opportunities, but he seems to have cleaned up his act now, and in a rather fathomable fashion. 18 league goals leaves the versatile attacker 1 goal short of Van Persie’s desirable tally, but with the 29 year-old being less of an essentiality for the league leaders, a couple more rests might be in store for the ever-prolific predator. The deceptive Uruguayan also has an innate ability to create something out of nothing, and he has shown this numerous times this season. He is also no stranger to set-pieces, free-kicks in particular. Having scored 4 equally impressive free-kicks this season, El Pistolero has cemented his place as Liverpool’s direct free-kick taker, relieving captain Steven Gerrard of his duties in that department. Suárez has rectified last season’s wrong-doings in front of goal, and has almost doubled his league tally of last year (11) with his 18 goals so far in this campaign. Hot on Van Persie’s heels, the accolade of Golden Boot is Van Persie’s for the losing, and the Uruguayan’s for the taking.

The differences between the two are as clear as daylight. Van Persie is big, menacing and a lethal weapon when given the ball at his feet anywhere inside the opposition’s box. Last season’s Golden Boot winner can hold up the ball for as long as he needs to let his side re-group and re-shape, and he has typified United’s effectiveness in front of goal for large portions of this season. Slightly more clinical, reliable and consistent than Suárez when in front of goal, the former Feyenoord starlet manages to keep a cool head more often than not, something which is undervalued in football nowadays.

But Suarez brings more versatility and unpredictability to the table, something which causes chaos and uncertainty among opposition defenses. Twisting and turning, ducking, dipping and diving, Suárez is one of the Premier League’s top dribblers, and also a seasoned veteran in the art of nut-megging. He doesn’t just go around players, he goes through them, sometimes with relative ease, already having racked up an astonishing 36 nut-megs so far this season. The most in the world. Some say he could even nut-meg a mermaid, although that is yet to be seen. The Uruguayan has also excelled more so than his opponent in this article, winning the 2011 Copa America with his national side, brushing aside other highly-regarded South American sides in the process, winning the tournament’s most valuable player award was also a testament to his effectiveness for his side.

The two hit-men are indispensable to their clubs. 37 goals shared between them, they are undoubtedly the two best strikers in the Premier League. Unfortunately, the fear is that these two world-beaters might not be around too much longer, with Van Persie going on the wrong side of 30. Speculation is also rife regarding the Uruguayan’s future at Merseyside, with Bayern Munich rumoured to be keen admirers of the talisman. But Suárez has repeatedly come out downplaying a move being on the cards any time soon, after all, he did just sign a 5-year contract at Anfield last summer. But only time will tell what the future holds for the Premier League’s most prized possessions.

Here is a video detailing the exploits of the United and Liverpool men respectively thus far this season. There are some real belters in there from both players.

Now it is time for you to have your say. Who do you think is the best out of these two?

Gareth Bale: Best Goals

 

The love is mutual, Gareth

The love is mutual, Gareth

Everyone seems to be talking about the speedy Welshman nowadays, as his performances have set the English Premier League alight almost on a weekly basis. Love him or hate him, his ability and apt for the beautiful game is undeniable.

What many don’t know is that the 23-year old proved to be somewhat of an initial drag for Tottenham as his first 24 appearances for the London side went without a single victory.

AVB has undoubtedly brought out the best in the left-footed magician and it is no surprise that clubs like Real Madrid are hot on his heels hoping to acquire his prestigious signature. He is now drawing comparisons to Portuguese world-beater Cristiano Ronaldo, and rightly so.

Before Moussa Dembele’s late wonder-strike against Lyon mid-week, Bale has scored Tottenham’s last 6 goals, which led many to believe that Spurs were most certainly a ‘one-man’ team.

But he is not at the same level as his Portuguese compatriot as of yet, although Bale is not too far off. His 17 goals thus far this season are testament to his stellar performances and his unflappable consistency, which has eluded him at times throughout his short yet illustrious career.

A strong candidate for Barclays Premier League Player Of The Season and a shoe-in for Team Of The Season, the future holds a lot for Tottenham’s pace-merchant.

Down the years, Bale has scored his fair share of belters. His left foot is probably the most powerful on the planet as of now, and his free-kicks are also on par, if not better than Cristiano Ronaldo’s.

Take a look at what I feel are Gareth Bale’s top 5 goals throughout his career, and vote for what you think is the cream of the crop. Apologies if I miss out on one or two, so leave your thoughts or personal favourites in the comments section below.

1. Gareth Bale vs Stoke (2010-2011)

My personal favourite from the flying Welshman. A lofted ball in from Lennon ends up around head height for the left-winger, but the height is not a problem for Bale. The execution and technique used to dispatch this volley into the top right corner is awe-inspiring, and jaw-dropping is an understatement. Struck so clean that the ball is always rising. How he even managed to get his foot around that ball is beyond me. Majestic from the left-back-come-winger.

2. Gareth Bale vs Lyon (2012-2013)

Gareth Bale’s free-kicks have been marveled over countless times by various pundits and fans this season. His first attempt vs Lyon in the Europa league was one of his more exceptional efforts, and that’s an understatement. The manner in which the ball got over the wall and dipped so quickly was enough to make even Ronaldo googly-eyed at this insane finish from the Premier League’s best left-sided player. Take a bow son.

3. Gareth Bale vs Norwich (2012-2013)

This goal shows everything that Gareth Bale has to offer in his huge armoury. A considerable amount of pace, a controlled first touch, immense strength and an ice-cool finish all feature in this epic solo effort from the former Southampton man. His first and second touch are what make this goal, without these two perfectly measure pieces of skill the ball would not have ended up in the back of the Canaries’ net.

4. Gareth Bale vs Inter Milan (2010-2011)

(Excuse the poor quality)

How could one of his memorable hat-trick goals not feature in this compilation? A virtuoso performance from the attacker earned him well-deserved plaudits from all corners of the globe, and his immeasurable talent was finally realised on this fateful night at the San Siro. The night that made him the player he is today. The night that he personally tore the world’s best right-back Maicon to shreds all of his own accord. His first goal was what opened the floodgates for Tottenham to push on and help him score two more, and this is why it is his best. Another masterful solo run resulting in a thunderous strike past Julio Cesar, who is merely a passenger in this second-half trio of goals courtesy of Tottenham’s Welsh Maestro.

5. Gareth Bale vs West Brom

Maybe not his best goal, but a cracking strike nonetheless. With Jermaine Defoe and Adebayor failing to net consistently enough for the London side, Gareth Bale has taken up a large portion of the goal-scoring mantle for most of this season. This powerful effort helped Spurs claim a well-deserved 3 points against the Baggies, and this goal is certainly one to remember for Bale.

Parking The Bus: An Ugly Phenomenon

Brutal, yet effective

 It would be safe to say that Barcelona weren’t their usual selves on a cold Wednesday night in Milan during a scintillating and historic Champions League tie. Averaging 3 goals a game so far this season, the Spaniards shocked the footballing world when they finished the 90 minute thriller against the resilient Italian side without a single goal to their name.

While many may dismiss Barca’s failure to show up at the San Siro as a once-off, this is most certainly not the case. Time and time again the Catalans have carved their way through weak Spanish defences all too easily, and putting 3 or more goals past their opponents is almost a weekly fixture for football fans watching across the globe. Tiki-Taka is undoubtedly one of the most successful mediums of football used today, and Tito Vilanova’s side pass opposition to death with relative ease in La Liga. Their ruthless run of form in the Spanish league has seen them claim the best ever La Liga start in history, after they had claimed 55 points out of a possible 57 at one stage in the season. Have a look at their 24 results domestically so far this campaign. Astounding to say the least. 80 goals in 24 games is utterly emphatic. This is the sort of form that has earned this star-studded side the right to be crowned as one of the world’s best ever teams.

 

Barca running riot in La Liga

Barca running riot in La Liga

 

But the Champions League is a whole different ballgame, and while the Spanish League leaders seem to have faced the unpredictability of the outcomes on those fateful European nights, they still seem as if they haven’t learnt from their previous misdemeanours.

Last season, Chelsea pulled off two monumental results against the ‘La Masia’ crowd. Many criticised Chelsea’s unappeasing method of play, yet if it wins you the game, surely you must be doing something right?

There is no right or wrong way to play football, although some ways are simply more effective than others. Chelsea’s use of ‘Parking the bus’ was one of Roberto Di Matteo’s most inspiring additions to a side deprived of the same quality as their Spanish opponents, and it worked a treat.

Pep Guardiola’s mesmerising ‘Tiki-Taka’ football is widely described as the most aesthetically pleasing style of football, and it allows players suited to the unique system to realise and reach their full potential. But all good things inevitably come to an end, and Pep Guardiola’s seemingly unflappable system was found out by an unsuspecting London outfit. Chelsea unearthed Messi et al’s achilles heel, and starved the Spaniard’s of time and space in every last inch on the Camp Nou and Stamford Bridge turf.

 

This ingenious implementation by the former Chelsea manager meant that his whole team had to double up on almost every one of Barcelona’s players. The Pensioners essentially defended with 11 men for much of the game, and in doing so they frustrated Guardiola’s side so much so that the Londoners would eventually prevail, and claim their first ever Champions League trophy, an accolade which has eluded Abramovich and his disciples for the whole of his and Chelsea’s illustrious career.

Milan decided to take a leaf out of Chelsea’s book, and Massimiliano Allegri implemented an almost identical tactic of ‘Parking the bus’ when the Italians met the Spaniards.

Possession is the most prevalent component in Barcelona’s much-loved Tiki-Taka football, but what’s the point of having the ball if you can’t put it in the back of the net? You would think that after last season’s fall at the merciless hands of Chelsea, Barcelona would have learned their lesson. Yes, small, ball-monopolising players are more suited to Barca’s system, but there is a gaping flaw in the Spanish side’s system. There is no plan B. Evident against Chelsea, even more so away to Milan.

Passing doesn’t win you games

After all, passes don’t win you games, and neither does possession. They may lend a huge helping hand in some aspects, but there needs to be some sort of adaptation by the sometimes one-dimensional Catalonian outfit. Vilanova’s side play passes over-the-top and in-behind for fun most days. But when the going gets tough, they seem to lose their way, sticking to the only way they know how to play football. How often do you see Barcelona score from a cross or a header? Seldom. Sometimes a gritty goal is needed, and when Messi is in the box, he simply cannot beat the majority of centre-backs with any sort of aerial presence.

Milan’s composure in front of goal proved to be crucial in their monumental win against Barca, and they didn’t need an awful lot of possession to win the game. Just a perpetual, unfaltering work-rate along with a huge scoop of luck, and the Italians ran out the victors. Two majestic goals courtesy of former Portsmouth players Kevin-Prince Boateng and Sulley Muntari put the Italian giants 2-0 ahead on aggregate, leaving the Messi and co. with a massive mountain to climb.

Call it what you will. Ugly, distasteful or boring. But in the end, sometimes parking the bus is the only way to get one over the Tiki-Taka loving sides, and in these two instances, it has proven to be more than just a mere fluke, but rather a stroke of genius by Allegri and Di Matteo.