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SportSoccer
ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE

Liverpool show they can survive and win without star Suarez

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 2:31am

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes Jonjo Shelvey's impressive display in the 3-2 win over West Ham proves his side can thrive without Luis Suarez.

The Reds went into the clash at Upton Park without their star striker, as Suarez served a one-match suspension, prompting fears at Anfield that Liverpool would struggle.

But Rodgers, whose squad is short of recognised senior forwards, responded to Suarez's absence by pushing Shelvey, 20, into a more attacking role from his normal berth in midfield, and he rewarded the gamble with an influential performance.

Former West Ham defender Glen Johnson put Liverpool ahead before a Mark Noble penalty and a Steven Gerrard own goal gave the home side a half-time lead.

Joe Cole, another West Ham old boy, equalised in the 76th minute and Shelvey played a key role in the winning goal, pressuring centre-back James Collins to poke the ball into his own net. "Jonjo was outstanding," Rodgers said. "You see there are two different ways in which you can play the number nine role.

"In this country it is always a very traditional target man, a clear number nine. Give credit to Carlton Cole, I know him from my time at Chelsea, he is a real handful and was outstanding.

"But you see young Jonjo Shelvey at 20 years of age playing the number nine role in a different way - dropping into midfield and combining with players to make the extra man, being a threat when he is in around the box, showing great feet. I thought he was outstanding.

"It was great credit to him, there was a lot of pressure on him, because people have been trying to compare him to Luis Suarez.

"But he has been terrific in my time here, he is only 20 and has a big future ahead of him."

Liverpool's second successive win moved them into 10th place and within four points of the top four places despite their slow start to the campaign.

Rodgers insisted he was always confident Shelvey's quality and his squad's spirit would cover for the loss of Suarez, who has scored 13 times in 22 appearances this season. "For us there was no drama," he said.

"I had great belief in the players that we could score goals and create goals because we have done it all season, but we just haven't been clinical enough and had the good fortune at times to rack up more goals.

"But I think you have seen today, even without Luis, the quality in the team, but equally the fight in the team, and that was pleasing."

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