Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes England and West Ham striker Andy Carroll’s best is yet to come.
The Liverpool loanee is set to return to Sam Allardyce’s line-up for Arsenal’s trip to Upton Park on Saturday after a four-week layoff with a hamstring injury.
The 35-million pound front man struggled in his first season at Liverpool after moving from Newcastle, but Wenger believes the 23-year-old will relish the greater freedom he has in his role on loan at West Ham.
“I don’t think we have seen the best of him (Carroll) yet until now,” Wenger said.
“I think that he started very well and then he had to deal with a high level of expectation, massive transfer amount on his shoulders, going to a historic club where of course there was a lot expected of him.
“Maybe it was a bit too early for him but since I’ve seen him at West Ham he looks to me back to the Carroll we have seen at Newcastle, playing with more freedom, with less pressure and I rate him as a player.”
Arsenal suffered their first defeat of the season in a 2-1 loss to Chelsea last Saturday and will take on West Ham in their second London derby in a week.
“They (London derby) still count because it’s (Upton Park) always a difficult place to go, West Ham, because they have a good side, they have good balance as well,” he said.
“They are efficient, they have a good mixture of direct play and playing on the ground because technically they are quite sound in midfield.
“When needed they have Carroll and (Carlton) Cole up front who can go for high balls as well.
“We know that we will have a big challenge there. We know we will only come away with the points if we perform at our best.”