Thursday night's Premiership clash with Spurs at Wembley made for pretty compelling viewing - and not necessarily only for positive reasons. Moyes' men were clearly told to park the bus with two layers of defence protecting Adrian's goal and as a consequence Spurs were reduced mostly to long range efforts.
|No pressure there mate!|
At this stage we have established that Moyes' side can defend well when they opt to park the bus but, equally, when we try to play a more open and expansive game we suddenly seem to morph into a pub team at the back with costly consequences against Bournemouth and Newcastle, not to mention that horror night at Goodison. So what did we learn about our current plight on Thursday night?
1. Chicharito is not effective as a lone forward. Physicality is not Hernandez's strength and he really struggled to have any impact up front. Worryingly, when Spurs cocked up leaving him with a clear run on goal from 30 metres out he was easily outpaced by both Spurs centre backs. Chicharito is a poacher and needs the ball in and around the box.
2. Our midfield cannot hold onto the ball under pressure. The final haul of 29% possession says it all - throughout the game we found ourselves making hopeful passes forwards - often from the edge of our own box! But for the nimble-footedness of Lanzini and Masuaku, we might never have crossed the half way line! Noble was our best midfielder on the night - even counting Obiang's fabulous strike. Top of our January transfer list must be a midfielder who can hold onto the ball.
3. Declan Rice can be the new Billy Bonds! Another super performance from the youngster. With all the talk about Reece Oxford, Rice has slipped in there with a mature head on 18 year old shoulders. The kid seems to have it all - pace, close control, strength, good positioning sense....and a natural leader. This kid is the real deal.
4. Adrian is back on best form. In fairness, neither Lloris nor Adrian had much chance with the two sublime strikes on Thursday night. Otherwise, Adrian was excellent in pulling out a series of great saves. Why are we paying Joe Hart so much per week to sit on the bench?
5. Arthur Masuaku is bloody brilliant!!! Still only 24, he will get better and better. At last we have realised that he is better in a more advanced role with five at the back and he is loving it. One particular cameo on Thursday night was perhaps the best skill we've seen all season as he plonkered two spurs defenders before deftly flicking the ball across the penalty area - OUTRAGEOUS STUFF!
Check it out:
Our main players can expect a well-earned rest as we travel to Shrewsbury for the FA Cup today. It’ll be fascinating to see how our latest crop of kids perform when they finally get their chance.