Having watched Carroll’s development very closely over the last two and a half years, when he finally completed his move west I quickly noted the lack of players in Liverpool’s squad that complimented his style. Whilst I admit to stating the obvious, Carroll’s strength is his aerial dominance, but for that to be effective he requires service from wide positions.
That’s why he flourished so prominently in the first half of last season, in part due to Joey Barton. Take his goal against Arsenal at the Emirates for example. A long free kick hung up in the air by Barton. His first goal of the season a corner swung in by that same Scouse philosopher Barton. Of course his game boasted goals from other positions, including a somewhat emphatic strike against his future employers in December, yet the point remains Carroll enjoys attacking the ball.
Kenny Dalglish appears to have noticed this. If we analyze his acquisitions over the summer, a notable trend appears. Charlie Adam, Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing: A trio that can all cross and or provide from set pieces. As the season began I felt it was best to have Carroll flanked by Downing and Suarez (A bold suggestion I acknowledge as it requires the benching of Kuyt). With Craig Bellamy since added to the fold, two players with pace harassing backlines means that Carroll’s flick ons should now also bring more in the way of end product.
The Spaniards strength is without doubt his defending, but on occasion he enjoys a foray forward, something he does with rather aplomb in no small part to his blistering pace. He even provided the assist for Carroll’s goal on Saturday.
Now also seemingly cemented in the fold of the England squad, Carroll’s lifestyle remains as questionable if not nearly as concerning as when he was on Tyneside, and by that I mean in terms of column inches.
Of course the strikers critics may state his game must evolve, he simply cannot be a ‘Target’ striker. That is fair comment, but one of the biggest misconceptions about Carroll is that he is sloppy with his feet. Quite the opposite in fact, his footwork can be most impressive at times, his shot venomous, and his speed impressive, what is lacking however is consistency.
At 22 he may have been forgiven for a fluctuation in his performances at Newcastle, much like Jordan Henderson may have at Sunderland. Neither is being given the excuse of ‘still learning’ however, after all, the club paid over 50 million for the pair.
John Henry is likely considering their purchase for the future, with fans impatient by circumstance they wish to see regular glimpses of the potential their club has invested in. A goal against bitter rivals will always endear a striker to fans, while Carroll of course will be hoping to provide at least another 19 reasons for Liverpool fans to love him come next May.