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King Kenny's big decision

Wednesday 7th September 2011
A week has passed since the summer transfer window closed and Kenny Dalglish now finally has four strikers at his disposal.

Towards the end of last season and at the beginning of this campaign, big money signings Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll have appeared to be first choice in the attacking positions at Anfield.

Dalglish appears to favour a 4-4-2 formation and when his squad is fully fit the midfield looks likely to line up with; Jordan Henderson, Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Stewart Downing.

Performances from Luis Suarez since his January move from Ajax suggest he is a definite starter up front, but now Dalglish has to choose a partner for him.

As well as target man Andy Carroll, Dirk Kuyt and deadline day signing Craig Bellamy are vying for the position alongside the Copa America winner.

It appears that the partner for Suarez will be chosen depending on what style of football Liverpool are looking to play. This implying that it could be either Suarez and Carroll or Suarez and Kuyt/Bellamy up front.

Case for Suarez and Carroll

Criticisms have been made about Liverpool's long ball preference when Carroll is in the starting line-up.

However, one of Dalglish's main targets this summer has been to sign wide players who are able to deliver the quality of cross that Carroll thrived off at Newcastle.

To assist with this he signed Carroll's former Newcastle teammate Jose Enrique, winger Stewart Downing and Sunderland's Jordan Henderson.

All three have shown already that they are willing to cross the ball whenever they get the chance. Against Bolton we saw cross after cross but there was no Carroll on the end of them and the Bolton defenders were able to cope in the air comfortably.

With a large target man in the team it is only natural that the Liverpool defenders and midfielders will look to distribute long balls. However as was also mistaken when Peter Crouch was a Liverpool player, Carroll is also effective when he has the ball at his feet, which was evident with his first goal for the club against Manchester City.

Liverpool can use Carroll effectively without lumping long balls from the halfway line, playing their pass and move football through the midfield and out to the wide areas where the ball can then be crossed in at pace for the deadly Carroll.

Suarez appears to enjoy playing alongside the England international and if the Newcastle born forward can improve his fitness and regain some of the form he showed at Newcastle, his flicks and hold up play could pose havoc for opposition defenders who would also have to cope with the skill and unexpected movements from Suarez.

With the upcoming game against Stoke on Saturday, another of the advantages of playing Carroll could be witnessed as he has the ability to defend from set-pieces as well as scoring from them.

Case for Kuyt or Bellamy

Towards the end of last season when Carroll picked up a knock, Dirk Kuyt partnered Luis Suarez in Liverpool's attack for a very successful period.

The inclusion of four attacking and skilful players, in this case Henderson, Suarez, Kuyt and Downing, allows for much more flexibility in the system.

As witnessed against Bolton the movement of Liverpool's four attacking players caused chaos for Zat Knight and the much sought after Gary Cahill.

It is difficult for defenders to know who to pick up, one minute they could be marking Suarez but the next they could be up against the pace of Downing.

Maxi Rodriguez and Craig Bellamy could also fit into this system as they have the flexibility and attacking guile to play all along the front line.

The case for Bellamy or Kuyt to partner Suarez is further strengthened by Dalglish's mantra to play a pass and move game, as the ability of the four attacking players to collect a pass, find another and receive the ball again quickly was evident to see against Bolton.

Carroll's preference appears to be to hold up the ball and look for a wide player which at times can slow down the attacking emphasis.

Conclusion

It can only be seen as a positive that Dalglish has such a decision to make, with the quality of players being discussed.

Whichever decision he makes the line-up will suit his style of play, whether it be wing play, quick pass and move football or a mixture of both.

The Liverpool backroom staff may decide to change the style depending on the opposition but the £35million spent on Carroll was because Dalglish saw massive potential in the Geordie striker and a fully fit Carroll can terrorise defenders, just ask Laurent Koscielny and Sebastien Squillaci?

Whatever decision is made, it is safe to say Dalglish and his backroom staff will be doing it with the best interests of the club at heart.
Adam Woodhouse

Total articles: 10

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