While the loss of star front man Luis Suarez will hurt Liverpool's already meager attack, the ban (assuming Suarez doesn't appeal) provides the club with an opportunity to see whether or not Andy Carroll is worth the £35 million spent on him.
Carroll has received a few starts and accumulated a few substitute appearances with little results. With only three goals in 17 overall appearances, the 22-year-old has certainly failed to live up to expectations, or at least show some semblance of his Newcastle form. With Suarez out for the next couple months, Carroll should get an extended chance to prove that he has a future at Liverpool.
For Carroll to have a chance of scoring more regularly, the club will have to adapt to his playing style. Manager Kenny Dalglish has done a fine job of getting the club to play a fluid, pass-and-move style that has generated countless goal-scoring chances. When Carroll enters the fray, he interrupts the flow of the game on most occasions because he doesn't have the skill set to play in the style the club wants.
While it's not ideal, it very well may be necessary, unless Dalglish decides to move Dirk Kuyt up front, another player who hasn't scored as many goals as he had in previous seasons.
Whether or not a change in style is in the best interest of the team right now, I think it's worthwhile to give Carroll a chance to prove that he is able to play in some capacity for an extended period. The upcoming match against lowly Wigan is a perfect opportunity to try a new style of play.
Here's how I see Liverpool lining up, should they want to give Carroll a proper look:
DEF: Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Enrique
MID: Henderson, Shelvey, Adam
FWD: Maxi, Carroll, Downing
With this setup, there are multiple players capable of getting the ball to Carroll's head in the box, most notably Adam and Downing. It's apparent that Carroll isn't great with his feet aside from blasting shots from 20 yards out, so it is imperative that he shows the necessary effort to get into a good position to score with his head.
The loss of Suarez is obviously a huge hit to Liverpool's goal scoring, as no other player on the team has been able to consistently create chances. His impending eight-match ban does provide the Reds with a chance to properly evaluate Carroll though, and they should give the Englishman every chance to succeed in a system that should be more suited to his skills. If he fails in this stretch of matches as well, at least it could be said that they gave him a serious opportunity.
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