Andy Carroll celebrates his goal against Wolves
New Year, new Carroll.
It seems that the turn of the year has brought Andy Carroll some form.
A 0-3 defeat to Manchester City aside, Carroll has scored, provided assists, bullied defenders and turned in all-around encouraging performances, rather unlike his previously anonymous self.
So, will Liverpool’s No. 9 will turn it around at Liverpool and prove to be a good player for the Reds after all?
I vote yes and here are five reasons why.
Some players take longer to settle in than others.
Without doubt, Carroll has taken time to bed into his surroundings, both off and on the pitch.
But he is becoming more comfortable with his role in the team and what he has to do on the field and it shows.
Whereas previously he showed little to no desire to make himself available in the opposition area, now he is displaying the effort and awareness to get into good spaces and at good pace, too. His gallop from defending a Wolves corner into the Wolves' box on the break for Liverpool’s first goal last Tuesday was the perfect sign of a player who now knows his bearings.
Having been the star forward at Newcastle, he has had to adjust to playing a team game with a pass-and-move Liverpool. His knock-downs from long diagonals have provided goals for Craig Bellamy and Dirk Kuyt. His cushioned headers from crosses have created shooting opportunities for the midfielders. His layoffs from forward passes have contributed to an overall fluid midfield movement.
And so contributions as Liverpool’s lone striker, in the absence of Suarez, have shown a growing maturity.
Is that good enough for the long-term? No one can be sure. But with short-term improvements like this, Carroll only needs to keep going on the upward curve.
Three new starting midfielders for Kenny Dalglish
As with Carroll, new signings like Stewart Downing, Jordan Henderson and Charlie Adam have needed time to settle.
Whether Liverpool fans like it or not, the three midfielders are integral to Dalglish’s first-team lineup. Adding in Luis Suarez and Carroll himself, these are five players who are going straight into Liverpool’s new starting 11. If we count the unfortunately injury-prone Craig Bellamy, that’s six.
Following the gradual decline of Jamie Carragher, Martin Skrtel and Daniel Agger have established themselves as Liverpool’s first-choice central defensive partnership. They took time to grow, but the partnership has since flourished.
With all the accusations of Liverpool being great underdogs and seeming to up their game against the big boys—as proved by their performances in the Cups against Manchester City and United—the Wolves match showed a considerable growth of the collective Liverpool.
The growing comfort and teamwork between Liverpool’s new signings will only provide a much more solid and productive foundation for Carroll to build upon.
We'll see if this was a false dawn on Monday night.
Carroll might, for the first time ever, start with these guys
All pre-match hype before Liverpool’s massive Anfield clash with Tottenham on Monday night is about the Suarez-Gerrard-Carroll partnership.
Since Suarez and Carroll arrived in a whirlwind January 2011, the trio have never started a Premier League game together.
If Kenny Dalglish is licking his lips at the prospect of this front three, imagine what the rest of the league is thinking.
With Craig Bellamy fully capable of wreaking havoc on the meanest of Premier League defences, with Lucas still to come back next season and with a defensive unit growing by the game (not to mention the prospect of exciting signings for next season), Liverpool will be looking forward to their strongest team under Dalglish’s second reign.
Andy Carroll can only benefit from this.
This is a factor that is only controllable by Carroll’s manager and not Carroll himself.
We saw from the last few games the good that a sustained run in the first team can do for a striker’s confidence (I’m talking about Andy Carroll here, not Fernando Torres).
However, with Suarez set to return to first-team action following his eight-match ban, does Dalglish use Suarez in place of Carroll as the main striker and set up an on-the-floor passing game that served Liverpool so well at times last year?
Or does he work out a way to fit in an improving Andy Carroll to spearhead a multi-faceted team?
Again, we will have many of our questions answered on Monday night. If Carroll is awarded with an extended period in the first 11, though, odds are that he will improve even more.
Carroll applauds the Liverpool fans on his first appearance at Anfield
At this point, passionate fans are almost a tired cliché associated with Liverpool Football Club. But it wouldn’t be a cliché if it weren’t true.
We’ve seen less savory episodes with the booing and general displeasure towards Lucas during his first few years at the Club and with the recent heckling of Patrice Evra following Suarezgate, but Liverpool fans remain a supportive bunch most of the time.
For a young player like Andy Carroll, this support could prove to be key in the long run.
Liverpool fans have given him massive amounts of encouragement and patience for the better part of the year, even while Carroll repeatedly failed to turn up for the game and to asset himself on any proceedings. Yet the Kop was still there, prepared to give him a chance.
We all saw Carroll’s appreciation towards the Liverpool fans during his celebration against Wolves and the Kop’s infectious support will only increase with a good run of form from Andy Carroll.
If you’ve also read my pieces on the reasons behind Andy Carroll’s previous goal drought, why Liverpool shouldn’t sell Andy Carroll or my comments on both (and other) articles, you’d probably have figured out by now that I have a lot of time for Liverpool’s No. 9.
I firmly believe there will be a time when he does live up to his reputation (not necessarily his pricetag), but only Carroll himself will be able to control whether that is in the short or long term.
If he turns out to be the flop that some have already started labeling him as, I’d be the first to (reluctantly) admit my misplaced faith. However, I’m sure no Liverpool fans would express schadenfreude at Carroll’s failures, unlike a certain former No. 9’s travails…
What do you think? Do you see hope for Carroll following his recent performances or will he still fail at Anfield? Have your say below and thanks for reading.
For more Liverpool match reactions and opinions, check out and subscribe to my blog, The Red Armchair. If you're reading this before the Liverpool vs. Tottenham game on Monday night, I invite you to join my live chat here at 8 p.m. GMT.