Danny Higginbotham heaped praise on West Ham attacker Andy Carroll ahead of the Hammers taking on Arsenal on Saturday.
The Sky Sports pundit, who regularly appears on the broadcaster’s The Debate and Match Centre shows, shared his opinion of the Hammers 30-year-old forward and revealed he thought that there was more to the player’s game than others thought.
Higginbotham pointed out Carroll’s threat in the air but added that people underestimate how good he is at holding up the ball so his teammates can run ahead of him and get in a good position.
“I think the thing is with Andy Carroll is that there is no doubting that in terms of the Premier League he is one of, if not the best, at attacking the ball when it comes into the box,” said the pundit on Match Centre (Sky Sports News, Thursday January 10, 10:31am).
“You know he has great ability and the question mark over Carroll has always been the injury side of things, just when he is getting a run he picks up an injury, but he’s such a big threat.
“Not just when balls are coming into the box, but his hold up play when bringing others into playing, he is an excellent player and it’s just keeping him fit as in my mind there’s no doubt about the quality he does posses.
“Phwoar, it takes a while to get your match fitness when you’ve been out and you’ve just been training, it takes a while as no amount of training will get you match fit as that will only come in games but the thing I’ll say with Andy Carroll is he will have willing runners go beyond him, like I said he is fantastic in the box, you want crosses coming into him as he is so good at that.
“But I think he has more than that in his game, he is a player you can play it into and he holds it up well because like I say West Ham have willing runners around him like Arnautovic (Marko) then y’know he is very good at bringing others into play.”
Carroll is regularly praised for his ability in the air but Higginbotham clearly believes that there is more to the forward’s talent than people think based on his assessment. It’s easy to see where the Sky pundit is coming from as sometimes Carroll being on the pitch actually aids the forward he is playing alongside, if his manager has set the team up in a 4-4-2 formation for example. Sometimes due to the 30-year-old’s physical presence he is able to hang on to the ball in order for his usually more pacier teammates to get into a position that could potentially lead to a goal. A lot is made of Carroll knack for being a threat in the box but usually his contribution to the build-up of goals is overlooked. However this season the forward has struggled across the board in his eight outings as he is still showing signs that he is completely match fit. This is understandable as his latest injury did keep him on the sidelines for a notable period and more crucially interrupted the attacker’s pre-season.