What a difference a year can make in football.
Last January, Andy Carroll was one of the hottest young strikers in the world. He was banging in goals for fun for his boyhood heroes Newcastle and, prior to picking up an injury that would keep him on the sidelines until March, he had scored six goals in his previous nine Premier League games.
Twelve months on and Carroll’s fortunes couldn’t be more different.
The £35 million that Liverpool paid to bring him to Anfield is a price tag hanging around his neck like an anvil. He has scored just four league goals in his year-long spell on Merseyside and rumours are starting to circulate that he could be set for a cut-price switch back to the north-east in a move that would prove embarrassing both for his club and the player himself.
For now, though, Carroll remains a Liverpool player as he continues to search for the key that will unleash him from his shackles.
That key could come in the shape of one single goal, one flash of inspiration, one piece of skill that reminds his head what his feet can do and sets free the rampaging powerhouse striker that we knew in January 2011.
The £35 million that Liverpool paid to bring [Carroll] to Anfield is a price tag hanging around his neck like an anvil.
On Saturday, Carroll could get another chance to turn his fortunes around in the absence of Luis Suarez as Liverpool host Stoke City at Anfield.
Carroll has scored once against Stoke before in his career in a 1-1 draw at the Britannia during his Newcastle days and he is 11/10 favourite with bwin to score on Saturday, despite his poor run of form.
That is in comparison to odds of 6/5 for Liverpool’s captain and midweek Carling Cup goal hero Steven Gerrard to find the net, 7/5 for Craig Bellamy to score at any time and 3/2 for Dirk Kuyt to score his first Premier League goal of the season.
Stoke beat Liverpool 1-0 at the Britannia Stadium in September thanks to a single strike by Jonathan Walters and he is 9/1 to open the scoring at Anfield on Saturday and 5/2 to score at any time.
But the best bet could be on former Liverpool hitman Peter Crouch to score against his former club at odds of 9/4.
With seven Premier League goals for the Potters since his summer switch from Spurs he could represent much better value for money than Carroll, or any of the current Liverpool strikers, for that matter.
Staking your free £25 bet for joining bwin.com on Crouch to score at any time will return £81.25 if successful.
You can read a full betting preview of Liverpool v Stoke City here.
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