Liverpool FC: Who Can Play the Part of Best Super-Sub in the EPL This Season?

Karl Matchett@@karlmatchettFeatured ColumnistSeptember 23, 2011

Liverpool FC: Who Can Play the Part of Best Super-Sub in the EPL This Season?

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    After a summer transfer window that saw half a dozen new first-team recruits arrive at the club, Liverpool's squad is brimming with options for Kenny Dalglish to choose from for each game.

    Dalglish will put out as strong a first 11 as he feels possible for each match, be it in the Premier League, the League Cup, or once the new year rolls around, the FA Cup.

    The midweek League Cup tie against Brighton was testament to both the depth of the Liverpool squad and the high regard in which Dalglish looks set to hold both domestic cup competitions this season: a team full of seasoned internationals took the field against a team a division lower than the Reds, albeit an impressively performing one.

    The team will be chopped and changed this season at various times as King Kenny looks to perfect his favoured 11, choose those in form and merge the mixture of skills within his squad to beat Liverpool's opponents on any given day.

    But sometimes, no matter how meticulous the preparation, no matter how well planned Liverpool's tactics are or how good form the team has been in going into the game—sometimes you just need that extra bit of energy and impetus from a player coming into the game in the latter stages from the substitutes' bench.

    Coming off the bench and having an instant impact—often while getting only 10 or 20 minutes of playing time—can be a difficult task for many players, and some seem much better suited to the role than others.

    But who have Liverpool got who can be a game changer at a vital moment when entering the game late?

    Who has that special knack of doing something different to create or score a goal when it matters most?

    Read on to see the five most likely candidates, and be sure to comment below and leave your pick of the bunch.

Craig Bellamy, Forward/Wing

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    Back for his second spell at the club, Craig Bellamy netted his first goal for Liverpool since rejoining from Manchester City during the week against Brighton.

    As a sub in his two league appearances thus far for Liverpool, he has been deployed in an attacking wide role out of necessity, as the Reds chased the game against Stoke and Spurs. But against Brighton, he played right up the top through the middle, and his movement and link-up play were impressive.

    He will fancy his chances of getting his first start against Wolves at Anfield on Saturday, but over the course of a season at 32 years of age, it is not unreasonable to expect that Bellamy might be expected to take the role of super-sub more often than not.

    Great pace, movement, versatility and an eye for goal make him a prime candidate for the spot.

Andy Carroll, Striker

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    Cutting a frustrated figure this season at times, and maligned by several fans for his lack of goals since joining for a club-record fee, there is no doubt that Andy Carroll needs to inject some sharpness into his game to win a regular starting spot.

    His natural attributes make him a potentially lethal forward and, as readers of my previous articles might know, I stand steadfast in my belief that he will be a massive player for Liverpool.

    However, we're not looking at the team in 2014. For this season, is Carroll going to start firing in the goals and linking up with the players around him on a regular basis? Or is he going to have to submit to a bench-spot and look to make his impact later on in games?

    Powerful, aerially dominant with a deceptively good touch and rocket of a left foot, Carroll has everything to be first-choice striker at Anfield, but his different approach to the game also gives Liverpool a different option when Plan A isn't going to plan.

    A model substitute, then?

Dirk Kuyt, Forward/Wing

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    Mr. Run Through Walls himself, Dirk Kuyt gives everything and is the man for the big occasion.

    And the League Cup against Brighton.

    His previously unchallenged starting 11 spot is under threat this season from the swelled ranks within the Liverpool changing rooms; Jordan Henderson, Stewart Downing and Craig Bellamy are all pushing for similar roles at times, while Steven Gerrard's return may also limit the number of attackers who get to start matches regularly.

    Kuyt has a knack for scoring goals and getting himself into great areas in the box; he thrives off the movement that players like Luis Suarez and Craig Bellamy offer to create space for the Dutchman to get into.

    His stamina is without question ,and Kuyt could probably play about five games consecutively, so neither starting matches nor coming off the bench is a problem. But are faster, more technically-proficient players the way forward for Kenny Dalglish?

    If so, is Kuyt going to be restricted to coming off the bench in league games when the Reds desperately need a goal?

Stewart Downing, Wing

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    English winger Stewart Downing has made an impressive start to Anfield life. His bursts of pace down the left flank and link-ups with fellow new recruit Jose Enrique have given Liverpool a much-needed threat on that side of the pitch.

    Even so, Downing's good beginning needs to be maintained over a whole season for him to keep his place with Bellamy, Kuyt, Maxi Rodriguez and others looking to take a similar starting role.

    His speed and willingness to run at defenders and whip in crosses or shots is a massive bonus for Liverpool during games—but is it something that could be best utilised off the bench when opposition defences start to tire?

    Perhaps coping with, for example, the non-stop movement of Bellamy or the constant graft of Kuyt would suitably wear down a full-back for an hour or so, leaving Downing free to tear into him for the final part of the game, creating chance after chance for his attacking teammates?

Jonjo Shelvey, Midfielder

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    Jonjo Shelvey hasn't seen too much action for the Reds' first team this season, but his promise is undeniable. If a training ground effort and application is mirroring his enormous potential, then his rise to first-team player will be rapid.

    Shelvey wasn't sent out on loan this summer to be a regular starter with another Premier League side, and that can only mean one thing—Dalglish wants him right under his own watchful eye, improving small parts of the youngster's game and giving him minutes in the team when he feels he can most have an impact.

    Unlike most of the others in this list, Shelvey prefers to operate just before the final quarter of the pitch, spraying clever and quick passes into the feet of his teammates and running off them to receive the ball back and keep the impetus and rhythm of the move going.

    His creativity and eye for the adventurous is often seen as a liability in a midfielder too young to have the experience and know-how to backtrack effectively and not make the wrong decision at the wrong time.

    But similarly, his fearlessness and self-confidence, which he definitely does not lack, make him a great prospect who can have a big impact on games at crucial times in the near future for the Reds.

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