Andy Carroll is a frustrating player to try and work out, at his best he is a dominant bully that will against even the best defence win you the game on his own, and yet also on his own he can just as easily cost you the game.
His red card against Burnley so early in the game put his teammates on the back foot in trying to defend the early lead they had taken, a task they admirably braved up until Burnley finally breached the hammers defence just 5 minutes from time.
Was it red mist, or was it just unfortunate that he collected two yellow cards in the space of 90 seconds for two elbows for two very similar offences?
The first perhaps was the harshest of the two, when two footballers jump together, especially from a standing start, arms will need to be used as leverage to gain the extra height to win the ball that is a natural movement of the arms when jumping.
Fans want to see their players doing everything possible to make sure they win the ball when contesting with an opposition player and for me I struggled to see why Carroll was booked, the last thing we want is a sterilised non-contact form of football and while not wanting to see footballers hurt, it is a contact sport and in contact sport players will get hurt accidentally.
At no point in either Yellow card did Carroll look to see where the opposition player was, now this could be viewed as reckless, but AC all the time watched the ball before jumping in to win the aerial duel.
While I may show sympathy to him for the first offence, the second yellow just 90 seconds later in my opinion could have been viewed as a straight red card offence, again AC never looks at the player, just watches the ball, but this time the elbow is leading, pointed and smashes into the side of Ben Mee’s head.
While Carroll in watching only the ball may complain he didn’t see the player, he must have known he was there by the way he jumped into him. At best its reckless and that for me is why I feel it could have been a straight red, not the second yellow the ref waved at him.
The difference to the game would not have changed had it been straight off or second yellow but a straight red is three missed games, AC will only miss one though with his current form and performances in games being patchy, perhaps he may find he won’t be back into the first team as quick as he hopes.
Strangely enough, the two best performances this season from West Ham have come away from home when playing with ten men, first at Southampton when Arnautovic was sent off at roughly the same time as AC’s offence, the ten men of West Ham managed come back from 2 down to nearly snatch a draw, before throwing it away by conceding a last-minute penalty. In the Burnley game West Ham still showed they could attack well and can feel proud of their defending only succumbing with 5 minutes left.
Carroll’s suspension can now lead to Diafro Sakho being given a chance, a player who is lucky to still be a West Ham player after his awol antics on the last day of the transfer window, but has managed 3 goals this season despite his limited game time. Sakho for me is the natural goalscorer we are crying out for, and would like nothing more than seeing him paired up with Hernandez, who looks very frustrated at the moment with the way we are playing, and that he is the player to make way every game when the substitutions are happening.
The Friday night game v Brighton may dictate the direction west ham seasons move in, with no Carroll will Billic go bold and play Sakho with Hernandez or will he play it safe with just the lone striker, a move that may alienate the hammers home crowd, who it seems patience with Billic is now wearing thin after too many ordinary performances.