Rodgers hails Suarez

Luis Suarez. Photo: Press Association Images

By Carl Markham

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers believes striker Luis Suarez's transformation from public enemy number one to likely Footballer of the Year is a true credit to the player.

Just over 12 months ago the Uruguay international was starting a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic in one of the most bizarre incidents of last season.

The pair are set to come face to face again at the scene of the crime on Sunday but Suarez arrives at Anfield as a completely different person.

Having served his punishment, which extended five matches into the current campaign, the 27-year-old's performances have been nothing short of remarkable producing a return of 30 goals in as many Premier League games with three hat-tricks - including four goals in a 5-1 win over Norwich in December.

That means he is the favourite to lift the Professional Footballers' Association's player of the year title this evening and with it complete his rehabilitation from a player opponents and fans loved to hate to one who is fully appreciated for his world-class quality.

"He is a brilliant talent. I think the supporters have seen him mature over the course of the last season," said Rodgers.

"I think he was in a real low moment after that game (against Chelsea last year) but he has gone away and probably looked in the mirror and reflected on himself because he is not that type of guy and it probably just spilled over.

"He is a really intelligent man who fits the values of this club, which is all about humility, class and he has all of that.

"He is a sheer winner and that probably overspilled last year, but his development over the last year has been remarkable both on and off the field and Liverpool have benefited from that.

"For me he is the consistently outstanding player over the course of the last year."

Suarez's goals have helped lift Liverpool within touching distance of their first league title in 24 years.

Their five-point lead at the top means victory over the visitors would end the Stamford Bridge side's hopes of winning the league and make it a two-horse race with Manchester City, with the Merseysiders already ahead by half-a-length.