When I didn't see Gabby anywhere on the team sheet on Sunday, I was firstly disappointed, then surprised. By the end of the day I wasn't that concerned by it and had decided that whatever the relationship between John Carew and the manager or whatever the reason why Carew seems to play second fiddle to Heskey and Gabby, there is going to be a few surprised people if Carew doesn't start next time out, even if Gabby is fit as a fiddle.
Before, I get started though, I just want to make it clear where I stand on the three strikers, just so I don't have to answer again and hopefully so you can see where I am coming from, because my view might surprise you, especially as you'll learn very soon I am a fan of Gabby and you'll think I'm contradicting myself.
This player is loved by managers all over the land and when we signed him, I was quite excited. I was excited for the wrong reasons and while I can see he creates space, drops back quite a lot and is generally a menace, I'm still not convinced.
Yes, I can see what he does and how he contributes but we have lacked goals this season and we have lacked goals ever since we signed him and when he takes his place on the pitch as a striker - you sort of want him to chip in with a few every now and then.
The season before Heskey signed for us we scored 71 goals in the league. Up until he joined last season we had scored 37 and we only scored 17 for the remainder of the season. This season we have scored 37 and when you look at the goals scored league table and see that we are seventh also in that - you can't be blamed if you start to think where we could be if we had a striker that scored a few as well as doing what Heskey does.
John Carew Carew
My view on Carew isn't split, I think if you give him three chances, he will score one and that is even on one of those days when he doesn't seem that interested.
The part of John Carew that I don't seem to really get, is why he sometimes looks like he'd rather be anywhere else other than on the pitch. I'd like to think it was that he is confidence player and has to play all the time and just gets unhappy when sat on the bench or not involved and half of me still thinks he would leave as soon as he is offered just a little more cash, but I don't think any of that matters if he scores one in three chances created for him.
He is also pretty good at creating his own chances - isn't that three penalties in two games now he has created and converted? He is a lazy, sometimes disinterested player, but he is a striker and he does absolutely what is expected of him. When a player does exactly what they are supposed to on the pitch, what more can you ask of him?Click here for the latest John Carew desktop wallpaper celebrating three against Reading
Gabby Gabby Gabby Gabby Gabby Agbonlahor
Let it be known, I am a big fan of Gabby. He has pace and while that used to be it, this season we can see he has bulked up a bit and is getting stronger. He is getting better at holding the ball up and he is still young. It is conceivable that he will be going to South Africa this year, Brazil in 2014 and representing England in eight more. The lad just needs to get a little smarter and have a team play to his strengths and he really could be our 20 goal a season striker.
If I were the manager, I'd probably rest Gabby a little more and bring him off when the opportunity presented itself, but I too would likely play him as often as I could, because he has that raw talent that can, every now and then, explode. The difficult thing with a player like this is moulding him and showing him how to control and unleash this talent. That is what certain people get paid lots of money to do and that is exactly what Gabby needs and is probably getting.
However, I'd drop Gabby right now.
Stoke on Saturday
Carew is scoring for fun at the moment and when you have a player like that, he has to play. He's stuck five fingers up at O'Neill recently and when a player who plays in a position that is generally associated with that of scoring goals and he's doing it, as far as I am concerned, Carew can stroll around the pitch against Stoke and demand the ball be played in to him whenever he signals for it.
The thing about Carew and why I suspect he maybe hasn't had the best of relationships with O'Neill is his work rate. We all know that O'Neill likes players that will run themselves into the ground and sweat blood for him, it is pretty much his trademark, but I think O'Neill just has to let Carew do it his way and O'Neill has to take this one on the chin. Let Carew be Carew.
Carew also has to be partnered with Emile Heskey and while I am personally not convinced, the evidence suggests it is exactly what has to happen. Sure, Heskey looked knackered after 70 minutes on Sunday, but that was because he ran himself into the ground and because he knows that if he doesn't, he isn't going to play and he'll get asked to cover for James Collins.
I'm not entirely convinced and like I've said above, I don't think we have scored enough with Heskey in the team, but for the most part he has played with Gabby, who is sort of just like Heskey but a bit faster. With Carew, we did score enough and for that reason, they have to be given another chance together, but that is just my opinion.
Now, I'll sit back and let you tear in to what I've written - but if you have an opinion on who should start against Stoke, by all means, leave it below.