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'Suarez saved Liverpool from mid-table'

ESPN staff
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Luis Suarez is a 'gladiator' on the pitch according to Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers © Getty Images
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Sunderland manager Gus Poyet has praised countryman Luis Suarez's impact at Liverpool, insisting that Brendan Rodgers' side would be "mid-table" without the Uruguayan striker.

Sunderland travel to Anfield on Wednesday to face a Liverpool side bidding to move within a point of league leaders Chelsea - and Poyet does not hold out much hope for his relegation-threatened team's chances if Suarez plays.

"It's not about how they play, it's about having a player who is going to be voted the best player of the year by everybody," Poyet told El Observador. "Without Suarez, they would probably be in mid-table."

Suarez has scored 28 goals in the Premier League this season, matching Robbie Fowler's club record with eight games remaining.

"The only way we can stop Luis is if he gets flu the night before and has a fever.

"The tactic will be to take him to the spaces in which he doesn't like to play. But Luis always manages to get out of those places, he never plays in the same way and there isn't a magic way to stop him."

Liverpool boss Rodgers believes Suarez is the standout candidate for PFA Player of the Year - and insists his striker has worked hard to start making headlines for the right reasons.

"Certainly for him it would be a wonderful step forward in his life and his career if he were to get the Player of the Year award," Rodgers said.

"I think it's been nice for people to see the other side of Luis this season. People don't see he's a real quiet, humble guy off the field who becomes a gladiator when he crosses the white line.

"This year, he has been a model of brilliance. On the pitch it's never been questioned and if anything he has improved on that level."

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