One option could be to play Johnson further forward and join the midfield unit – he certainly has the attacking quality and composure. However the ever-dependable Dirk Kuyt now seems to have won his place back in the starting line-up after initially losing it to new signing Jordan Henderson at the start of the season. Many were mystified by Dalglish’s preference for youngster Henderson over the experienced Kuyt, but it now seems the Dutchman has worked his way back into the starting line-up at the £20 million man’s expense.
Henderson can have little complaint due to his performances thus far, but maybe it is a slight on the management team for rushing the youngster into the first team instead of allowing him to acclimatise slowly – was there pressure from above to play him, with his huge price-tag? Either way Henderson is not yet ready for the starting line-up, especially whilst there are other more experienced, proven options available who have also contributed more on the field of play this season than the former Sunderlandman.
That just leaves the front-line which was made up of £58 million pair Luis Suarez and Andy Carroll for the entirety of the derby. The two striker’s were bought together back in January to form a dream ‘little and large’ partnership, but of the two, only Suarez has shone. The Uruguayan has been far and away Liverpool’s best player since pulling on a red shirt and his place in the starting line-up is cemented. Contrast that with Carroll’s very inconsistent, stop-start career at Anfield so far which has seen the Geordie giant’s abilities called into question every time he plays.
A severe lack of goals has added to the scrutiny, but Dalglish is standing by his man, publicly defending the youngster from the media’s criticism. Carroll repaid the managers faith with a derby goal, and there is little doubt he is still a huge ‘work in progress’. But both strikers scored on Saturday in a 2-0 win, their jobs done. Will the team that was on the field of play whilst both goals were scored be given a chance from the off?
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