24 hours later the glow has yet to fade. Two 2-0 scores in a row. Knock me down with a feather. But lez be honest – Love the result hated the game.
It helps (again) that Southampton were pretty shit. I can’t understand how they drew at Anfield. Though I can see why they could not score.
In the first minute the camera nearly missed their first chance. It exposed some of our flaws (there are so many….). Holding can’t defend a winger and Ox (may he’s hamstring rest in peace) can’t defend either. But Mustafa was there to intercept.
They had a couple of chances but again our Cech man was there to literally save us. If Alexis had been playing for them we would have lost the game in the first half. Which, as is the case with our team, was pretty drab.
There’s a weird symmetry in our team now. On the right we have a wingback who is exciting when going forward but very suspect while defending. Whereas on our left, Gibbs understands positional how to defend and interchanges seamlessly with Monreal. However, when it comes to creating and attacking play he is too timid and uncertain to help create anything that comes close to what Ox can do (even on just one hamstring).
One by-product of playing a back 3 is that, when Mustafa is playing, there are plenty of players to take the ball off our defenders. So, in this game at least, Mustafa only played one poor pass – which happened to be his only pass. Overall I still remain unconvinced by him. He goes to ground too often and too quickly. He overcommits in areas of the pitch where he should give himself more space. Overall though he did pretty well. Well enough that it was not obvious that our Koz was not playing.
So while the defense is more solid with this formation our creative side is suffering – as was evident in the first half. It improved in the second half because, well, we are a second half team (expect at WHL). Alexis now drops deeper to receive the ball and initiate our moves. He is weird. As the game proceeds he gets better – it’s as though his competitive juices invigorate him just as other players start to tire. Ozil helped; he was more involved but he’s playing more out on the left and further away from Alexis. That lovely first goal game through their inter-change when they were closer to each other.
Thereafter Southampton open up and that created more opportunities for us. As with ManU once we had that lead we looked a superior team. AR8 continues to make more runs forward – as does Ozil. And Xhaka continues to be the engine of the team. The second goal stemmed from Alexis non stop action down the left. And credit to Ramsey with the header back. It’s a shame DW23 was not there to head it in but at least our elephant man was there.
It’s interesting to reflect on the demise of both Ob1 and Theo. Neither have been really part of the team for a long time now. This is a positive sign. They had their chances and did not take them. Not having Lucas though is a negative. He might not defend like Gibbs but he’d be a nice option to have.
We’re still too far away from the top 4. At this stage we’re playing for discovery purposes. Can we discover a formation that works for us. This might be it but the personal aren’t quite there. It feels like we could lose Ox for a while. Bellend again showed himself to be a mere shadow of his pre injury form. We will miss Ox (which, 3 month ago would have been a surprising statement).
I still feel we were lucky on the night. Lucky to have Cech to save us. But better to be lucky than good. Though being both at the same time would be preferable.
A quick update to MAGA:
- Restrict the BPL to just us, Man U and Southampton
So onto Saturday