Allardyce wowed by Suarez impact
Published 04/04/2014 | 14:27
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce believes Liverpool and Luis Suarez are now benefiting hugely from the loyalty shown by both parties after a difficult summer.
Brendan Rodgers, whose team sit top of the Barclays Premier League, takes his side to Upton Park on Sunday with leading goalscorer Suarez looking to blow away yet another opposition defence.
But it could have all been different last year had the Reds backed down to heavy interest from Arsenal, or if the Uruguay international had forced a move having been criticised after receiving a lengthy ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic.
Suarez indicated his desire to leave Anfield for a Champions League side in August but was persuaded to stay on. Instead of playing for another club, he is the talismanic attacking influence in a free-flowing Liverpool XI who know that if they win every game between now and the end of the season they will land their first league title since 1990.
Allardyce's side will be tasked with the unenviable job of shackling both Suarez and his strike partner Daniel Sturridge, with the Hammers boss putting the former among the best players around.
"At the moment he now finds himself in the top two or three in the world," he said.
"The commitment he has shown to Liverpool and they've shown to him has given him extra impetus to be even better after the problems he had. His combination with Sturridge has flourished where that looked a concern earlier in the season when neither wanted to play wide on the wing.
"That's all come together. The rest of the team is providing service behind them and they have grown in quality and confidence."
Liverpool travel to east London having won their last six games, scoring 22 goals in the process, and Allardyce knows his West Ham players are coming up against one of the league's in-form sides.
"At the moment the Liverpool team in terms of form and coupled with results are at 100 per cent," he said.
"Sometimes you can be playing really well and not achieve results, but at the moment based on results and performances they are the top team and are now in the position they find themselves in."
Despite the obvious challenge posed by a rampant Liverpool side, West Ham will go into the fixture buoyed by back-to-back wins that have all but sealed their top-flight status.
Club-record signing and former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll was the star in Monday night's 2-1 win at Sunderland and is now getting back to his best having spent a large part of the campaign on the injury list.
His impact on the West Ham team is so great that Allardyce believes a push to qualify for European football would not have been out of the question had the England international been fit for the entire season.
'It's a possibility," the 59-year-old replied when asked if Europe would have been a target.
"Since the turn of the year our change of form and results has improved. It's got better and better. It's the best run in the Premier League we've ever had since we've been back. We'll take that confidence into Sunday's game, and hopefully produce one of those performances which has happened many times this year.
"Palace beat Chelsea, (Manchester) City lost to Sunderland, we beat Tottenham away. We hope it's one of those days. We have to be in top form to get anything out of it."