Monday 19 September 2016

Are we really that bad?

After yet another defensive circus in yesterday's comical defeat to the Baggies, it is again unfortunately necessary to consider what has gone so wrong at the back? In contrast to last year, where Bilic's side demonstrated an impressive capacity to shut games down, we are now defending like a lower league pub side and for all our alleged attacking flair, canmot seem to get a result to save our lives right now.

Chief to their defensive problems has been the chaos at right back. Having moved on from the crazy experiment using Michail Antonio as a wing back, Havard Nordtveit stepped in yesterday and was the only one of our back four to emerge with any credibility as he stuck to his defensive duties. Unfortunately, his lack of attacking ability meant that in the final quarter as we pushed for an unlikely comeback, the canny Baggies allowed play to shift to the right wing where he repeatedly botched decent attacking opportunities.

The arrival of Alvaro Arbeloa will provide options but he is still somewhat short of match fitness and at 33 years of age is only a temporary solution. Sam Byram needs to get more game time under his belt - but at what cost to results? How SuperSlav must be wishing we still had James Tomkins on the books?

On the left, Arthur Masuaku had a disappointing game - his first for the club but it's worrying that all four defensive positions look shaky right now. Cresswell still has more than a month before he will return but at that point it will be a relief to see a probable starting back four of Arbeloa, Reid, Ogbonna and Cresswell. Presumably Adrian will get over his dip in form - has the call up to the Spain squad distracted him?

In midfield, both Noble and Kouyate look jaded. Neither had major Summertime commitments but for whatever reason the pair are not dominating midfield the way they did for much of last season. It's hard to know what can be done to reinvigorate this pair but Slav needs to do something quickly.

Meanwhile, at least up front things are looking interesting. As the final 30 knutes demonstrated, the Payet-Lanzini-Feghouli triad could well be a winner. All three are defensively weak, but if we can tighten up behind them they will create chances. Zaza needs more time to adjust to the pace of the Premiership but will need to start delivering soon with big Andy back in the next few weeks and (maybe) also a revitalised Diafra Sakho? The League Cup will provide Ashley Fletcher with an opportunity to stake his claim and on the basis of his cameos as a substitute so far he looks odds on to take it.

Finally, the continued rise of Michail Antonio is a real joy to behold. He stuck at it when things were really going against him earlier in the campaign. Maybe we all need to take a leaf from his book and get behind the team - the results will surely follow.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The midfield issue, especially Noble and Kouyate, could be down to the fact that the pitch is larger, more ground to cover, especially as others aren't pulling their weight. Noble has never had pace either so that and the fact he is'nt getting any younger will be against him on a bigger pitch

  3. fair point - the up side is that the wider pitch suits Antonio, payet, feghouli but isn't helping defensively out wide


Feel free to comment - bad language is strictly forbidden and please refrain from any nasty 'isms'