Andy Carroll could come back to haunt Liverpool this weekend - but the £35m signing had to go
The England striker will face Liverpool for the first time since his £15m move to West Ham
Liverpool have been lavished with praise this season for the style of play that has taken them to the top of the Premier League table. Yet ironically it took selling the club's record signing for Brendan Rodgers' vision to start taking shape.
This weekend Liverpool will come up against their £35m signing Andy Carroll for the first time since he left the club.
The England striker was ineligible to play against the Reds last season as he was at Upton Park on loan, while he wasn't fit when West Ham visited Anfield earlier this season, a game that ended 4-1 in the home side's favour.
This weekend though will see the player West Ham paid £15m for given a chance to show his former employers what they're missing, although even if he scores the winning goal at Upton Park on Sunday, it's unlikely Brendan Rodgers will have any regrets about letting him go.
The Liverpool manager explained earlier this season the reasoning for letting the club record signing leave.
"My thinking was that, when you play with a target man, he becomes the focal point of your team, so everything has to be set up around the big guy. Sometimes you get sucked into doing it more direct, and clearly, with my history as a coach, I don’t work that way," said the Liverpool coach.
Brendan Rodgers talks with Andy Carroll
Carroll arrived at Anfield on the same January day in 2011 as Luis Suarez, but it was the exit of the former Newcastle player that has arguably allowed the Premier League's current top scorer to flourish.
"Removing that (the target man) means you have to connect your game better through the lines, through the thirds," explained Rodgers. "Possession is not good enough on its own, you have to penetrate. That's what Luis does. He is always on the move, in spaces and in behind defenders."
Without Carroll on their books Liverpool have risen to the top of the Premier League table and with six games of the season remaining, they have their title aspirations in their own hands.
The game at West Ham will provide a difficult test, with Carroll playing a major role in turning around West Ham's fortunes since returning from injury at the start of the year. He scored his second goal of the season in the 2-1 win over Sunderland on Monday night which quickly led to calls for him to return to the England set up and go to the World Cup this summer.
With a strong performance this weekend Carroll won't do his England chances any harm, but with Liverpool flourishing in his absence, even a winning goal wouldn't see the Reds wishing he was still among their ranks.
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