Luis Suárez will miss the Anfield game against Newcastle United on Friday after the Football Association handed down a one‑match ban and a £20,000 fine for his one-fingered gesture to the crowd at Fulham this month.
The Uruguayan striker, already facing an eight‑game ban subject to Liverpool appealing against the verdict of the FA's tribunal on the Patrice Evra racial abuse case, has also been warned over his future conduct.
Liverpool, who picked up an additional FA fine of £20,000 for failing to control their players in the same Craven Cottage match in which Jay Spearing was dismissed, have decided to accept both punishments and will not be contesting either decision. The club admitted the charge of failing to ensure their players behaved in an orderly fashion but initially contested the financial penalty until an independent regulatory commission ruled it was applicable.
Suárez admitted the charge against him, as did the Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, once photographic evidence was made available, and sources within the club say the intention now is to move on from this relatively minor matter and await the FA commission's detailed report into the Evra incident. Liverpool will almost certainly launch an appeal against the eight‑match suspension once the commission's findings have been made public. The FA are in the process of making a detailed report available, and once Liverpool have been made aware of the exact case against their player and reasons for finding him guilty they have a further fortnight to make up their minds about an appeal.
Suárez, Liverpool's leading scorer this season, has been in England almost a year and has never served a suspension in this country, though just before leaving Holland for Merseyside he was given a seven-match ban for biting an opponent while playing for Ajax. At Fulham he was apparently upset by sections of the home crowd accusing him of cheating by going to ground too easily. Dalglish has never attempted to defend his gesture, though he did use a DVD of the same game to support his view that Liverpool players were not getting a fair crack of the whip from referees.
Suárez's absence against Newcastle makes it more likely that Andy Carroll will start against his former club, though Dalglish refused to confirm as much on Wednesday and insisted everyone in the first team, not just his £35m centre‑forward, needed to take responsibility for scoring more goals.
Carroll started the last game against Blackburn Rovers but was unable to get on to the scoresheet despite two or three decent chances in the 1-1 draw. Dalglish has made no secret of the fact that he finds questions about Carroll's low scoring rate and limited appearances tiresome though he at least conceded it was a legitimate subject for discussion ahead of a game against Newcastle.
"Anyone who started the game against Blackburn has a chance of starting the next game," the Liverpool manager said. "We haven't picked up any more injuries and we are all in good shape. Andy is no different from anyone else, he's got to earn the right to be picked. It makes no difference to me that Newcastle are our next opponents, but Andy is a Geordie lad, he'll always be a Newcastle fan. All I can ask is that he always gives his best when he plays for us, and I think he's done that.
"Since he came here he's gone about his work very well. He is adapting well to the change, and fortunately for Andy we have got much greater belief in him here than others seem to have. I don't think he's short of self-belief, there's no evidence for that, though there is evidence that everyone in the team is short of goals.
"If you go through the list this year from last year, everybody's down. Maxi might be a wee bit in front, that's all. We look on it as a collective job and we'll get ourselves going. Everyone in the team is capable of scoring goals, it's not just down to the strikers. We have never been prolific scorers at any time since I came back, but I believe we'll get there. We've got a huge part of it right over the past year, we just need the finishing touches."
Alan Pardew's team come to Anfield equipped with Demba Ba, one striker who has not been stuttering in front of goal this season. Newcastle already appeared to have done better than Liverpool out of the Carroll transfer without picking up a ready made replacement on a free, one whose goals this season have more than satisfactorily covered the loss of the player sold on the last day of the January transfer window. Pardew may not have got his hands on as much of the £35m as he would have liked, but in terms of a playing replacement for Carroll, Ba has been inspired.
"He's scored 14 league goals this season, so with a guy like that up front I imagine Newcastle will come here trying to attack," Dalglish said. "Newcastle took a chance on Ba when he failed a medical at Stoke and they have been rewarded. I think he has been the pick of their signings this year but he's not the only good player they have brought in. I've been impressed with Yohan Cabaye and a few others as well."
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