Liverpool’s Luis Suárez has a reputation for diving, and while we rarely see that side of him when the Reds are winning, his team’s last two games (both losses) have seen that part of his arsenal resurface. On Thursday at Manchester City, we saw Suárez dramatically fall away from Joleon Lescott while the Citizens’ defender had a hand full of jersey, while on Sunday, Suárez was seen going down in the penalty area to try to draw a penalty on Samuel Eto’o.
It’s not that Suárez is the only person to try to trick officials, but as the Premier League’s leading scorer, he garners more attention. And Sunday at Stamford Bridge, he garnered the attention of Chelsea manager José Mourinho.
Mourinho’s words from the BBC, after being asked whether Samuel Eto’o’s challenge on Suárez late in Sunday’s second half warranted a penalty:
“It is not a tackle. Suarez lost the duel with [Chelsea left back Cesar] Azpilicueta, who has the ball and is leaving the box …
“Now he is doing an acrobatic swimming pool jump to try to get a penalty.”
“He is so clever because he also knows he is in the area with the Liverpool supporters behind him.
“But [referee Howard] Webb is 10 metres away and I think the only mistake he did was not to give him a yellow card.”
Suárez’s status as the league’s leading scorer isn’t the only reason people focus on his diving. It’s all plays into the duality of the Premier League’s best player. Suárez’s yin allows the 26-year-old’s relentless nature to make him one of the world’s preeminent goal scorers, while the yang sees his frustrations boil over into misbehavior when denied the reinforcement of goals. Each part necessary, co-equal, Suárez’s evil can’t be separated from his good, so the narrative goes.
Mourinho is well-aware of this Suárez-ian dualism:
“The player is amazing. He is a very nice boy, I know him from his time at Ajax.
“He does everything to win. [Liverpool manager] Brendan Rodgers is doing fantastic job with him because he has changed. There is no doubt he has changed.
“But when the situation is like this and you are losing comes the nature of the player. The wild nature of the player or the cultural nature of the player.
Given the success Liverpool’s had this season, it’s been interesting to see Suárez’s yang resurface. Though any discussion of diving tends to get a disproportionate amount of attention (see: this post), it’s only one, small part of the striker’s game – one which includes much more meaningful aspects than trying to draw the occasional whistle.