I hate Monday games. Having to wait and (not) watch the other teams play mean that there’s nothing to focus on for the entire weekend. And then there’s always the dread that Monday will be utterly anti-climatic. Waiting all that time for a dull draw or another Watford-like performance does not bear thinking about.
Thankfully today we were spared that. But only just. In the end it was fairly easy. A comfortable 2-0. But in the first half they should have had a penalty. And if it was not for Cechs brilliant save onto the post we’d have been 1-0 down. And then he’s second save before half-time stopped them equalizing. And imbetween our best player – Monreal – cleared a certain goal of the line.
So going into half-time we could not have complained if we were drawing if not losing.
The second half was better (it helps to have the lead I’ve heard). And then we did control the game and should have added a third. But, to be fair, if their claim for a penalty was not given I would not have expected our appeal to be granted. I’m impressed that Madley gave us this one. I’d feel pretty hard don’t by if I was a WBA fan – but then why, for the love of god would I – or anyone – be a WBA fan.
What did we learn today then? Primarily that Monreal is god-like and he and Kolasanic have nailed down our left hand side.
That Mustafa is still a truly shit defender. What the fuck was he doing going to ground in the penalty area in the first half. Another referee would have awarded a penalty against us and changed the course of the entire game. In this instance the attacker was not even going to goal but was running out of space. This is exactly the time to shepherd the play out of bound and only a retard would go to ground. But then Mustafa is a retard. He is a liability. His distribution is shit and he’s judgement is reckless. There was a time in the second half when he went charging for the ball in their half, missed it and left the entire defense exposed. I just wish Holding or Chambers or the BFG could claim that spot.
In midfield Xhaka had one of his worst games. He was sloppy all over the pitch (a nasty image I know). He gave the ball away in his own half a couple of times and, more generally, was very slow on the ball. I’ll put this down to one bad game but it’s still a little worrying that he can be so casual on the ball.
Elneny was a little better but not great. He was also a little slow in distribution. The difference is that he works a lot harder and, by the second half, was linking up play much quicker.
But this combination will be ripped apart by better teams than WBA.
Ramsey was a fault for their two first half breakaways (as was Xhaka for one of the tem and Elneny the other). But his forward movement is excellent. He gave their defense problems the entire game. He’s clearly better suited to the Ozil position than the holding midfield one. I’m just not sure he’s as creative as Ozil – though he’ll score more goals than the German. The creativity though came from Alexis. He’s still a little off his best – he needs more game time – but he was the only true creative force out there. Roaming over the pitch and finding Ramsey arriving in the box late. After a few more games, those passes will come off.
And don’t you love Cigarette? A real goalscorer. A fox in the box. But he can play outside of it as well. He’s control and speed fit so neatly into our set up. I’m sure he will develop a strong relationship with both Alexis and Ozil. And this guy will hit 20 goals this year (assuming he stays injury free).
And finally, to go back to our defense. Cech and Monreal. Outstanding. Both kept us in this game. I don’t think Monreal lost a ball the entire game. Every challenge – every pass – every move – was perfect today. Gibbs, who played well, was right to move on. No-one can replace Monreal when he’s in this form.
OK, now it’s time to play switch as we get ready for a journey into the middle of nowhere for the NoHoppa Cup. Let’s rest most of todays players and send them Theo and Ospina. Let the others get ready for Sunday.