Sunday 21 October 2018

Back to the Drawing Board for Pelle

The Pellegrini era has brought the full range of emotions, from the concern that we might be heading on an Avram Grant style disaster adventure all the way to the naughty ecstasy of playing keep ball against a thoroughly outplayed Man United! However, almost one quarter of the way through the season and languishing just above the relegation zone with just 7 points from 9 games, there is lots to think about in terms of how we can improve our fortunes!

First up, it needs to be recognised that we are playing more attractive football. We are getting much more of the possession and playing the ball on the carpet. Fans are happier and the London Stadium has a better atmosphere.

Secondly, we look like we know what we are trying to do. An initially shaky back four seems to be finding its feet after a pretty terrible start against Liverpool! Diop and Balbuena have developed a good understanding, but we still look uncertain at full back. The Cresswell/ Masuaku debate goes on and on, while Pablo Zabaleta has been very solid on the right. If we can get a few results on the board then we can take a few chances experimenting with different combinations, including Ryan Fredericks as a more penetrating option.

Thirdly, the emergence of Rice and now Diangana is a cause for great delight at a club that prides itself on producing home talent. The fact that Pellegrini is brave enough to give these inexperienced young talents a run in the Premiership is really reassuring. The man has style and confidence - it takes balls to risk youth in such a competitive league where managers are treated as highly disposable commodities.

However, we need more goals! Far too much of our attacking activity is based upon the Austrian. Although Arnie is the kind of guy who seems to relish the responsibility, it does get a bit predictable for the opposition to deal with. Chicharito has never really done it for the Hammers while Perez looks the least impressive of our Summer acquisitions. Beyond that, its sadly back to the familiar position of waiting on Andy C again, hmmm!

Also, our set pieces need to improve. Today against Tottenham we were building momentum on a number of occasions in the first half but our efforts were deflated by poor corners as Felipe Anderson had a bit of a howler. Eventually Mark Noble had to take over but at this stage of his career we know that Noble has limitations in this regard. Lanzini's return can, of course, help hugely with these issues.

With Burnley up next in the Premiership, we face a big fixture that we need to win to get momentum going again. If we lose, then we are slipping back into the worry zone and can expect the media to start putting pressure on Pellegrini again.  

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