Andy Carroll’s physical presence, ability to lead the line and flick headers accurately to team mates is certainly an asset that will enhance the Reds’ attacking play as long as the temptation to lauch cruise missiles from the edge of their own box does not overcome them. He was winning more than his share on Thursday and setting up some good field positions from which to spark something dangerous. However, what was lacking was somebody to appear in the hole and think outside the box (no pun intended). ‘Flair’ is a fairly ambiguous term but the word ‘creativity’ needs no explanation. Luis Suarez gives Liverpool this vital commodity, and his absence on Thursday was marked, even more so when one considers his contribution to today’s 0-2 win at Sunderland.
Perhaps the best way to sum up Suarez is by pointing out that it is fairly unclear what sort of forward he is, for the Uruguayan is equally adept at fulfilling probably three different roles. He can appear between the lines and either play killer balls or run past opponents, as he did to such effect against Manchester United. While not quite having the pace of Fernando Torres, he is certainly mobile enough to play on the last man and benefit from Carroll flick-ons. Suarez is also an excellent finisher in the penalty area, as his previous goal record for Ajax as well as his early form at Anfield shows. There will surely be many who hope and pray that the injury which forced him to leave the field today is not too serious, for Suarez is the sort of player who lifts the overall potential of the team by a noticeable amount, and elevates the performance levels of those around him.
That Liverpool have also added Carroll to their roster is more than a bonus. In Newcastle’s 3-1 victory against Liverpool earlier in the season, he showed Kenny Dalglish that he has more to his game than raw power. The ability to win headers is one thing, but what Carroll does in terms of the direction of the ball towards a dangerous area is mightily impressive for a 22-year old who has probably not yet peaked. Peter Crouch may have graced Anfield some five years ago, but is an altogether different type of player to Caroll, who is the closest thing they have had to John Toshack since his departure. His knock-down for a Suarez to do the damage may well become a recurring tale in match reports, and if it is then Liverpool may be right back in business. Fifth place is not beyond them just yet.