The end product may not be there yet, with a bad miss in the opening minutes against Swansea highlighting that fact, but in recent weeks Andy Carroll has certainly put in a shift—and looked far more useful for it, especially compared to the opening weeks of the season when he could at times seem indifferent. His performance on Saturday, though, while showing signs of that increasing effort and far from horrible, still wasn't the sort of outstanding performance we usually have the opportunity to reflect on following a match. However, thanks to frequent commenter Purify_the_body who put together today's Carroll compilation, this time we have the chance to take another look—something that allows us to appreciate all the things that Carroll did do well against Swansea, as well as highlighting how little choice he was given by his teammates when it came to the role he played.
Immediately striking is how often players try to link up with him, almost always in situations where the striker isn't tightly marked, only for the passes to go ten feet wide or for Carroll to break in another direction. With the player having been at Liverpool for nearly a year, suggesting that he still needs time to settle with his new teammates might lead to skeptically raised eyebrows. Yet regardless of whether it should be an issue, it seems fairly clear that Carroll and the rest of the squad don't quite know how to play with each other in tight quarters.
And moving out of those tight quarters in and around the box, it's obvious that even without Carragher in the lineup they really like to aim for his head. Love it or hate it, at this point one has to assume it's part of the gameplan. If that is indeed the case, the lack of direct support for his knockdowns has to be a concern. It may only add another item to the growing list of tactical choices that have led to grumbles while the team fails to get results, but one of the most obvious things to take away from a review of Carroll's day against Swansea is that he's doing his job—he's knocking down ball after ball floated to his head in areas where he can't be expected to register an attempt on goal. The failure is down to either those delivering the ball needing to do a better job judging if their cross is likely to lead to a chance if Carroll does knock it down, or to the players who are supposed to provide support not doing so. Or, if one is in a determinedly negative mood, perhaps it's simply an approach that's incompatible with the squad as a whole, no matter how suited Carroll himself might be to it.
Big thanks go out again to Purify_the_body for providing today's video.