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About spadefx

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    On the Bench

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  1. Wasn't exactly the most convincing 2nd half, but it's ultimately two difficult wins against a really decent side (which I think has been a bit overlooked), without our strongest XI in either fixture. We're into the semi final, achieved everything we could've in this competiton so far, and it should be a great tie with Frankfurt. Looking forward to the matches.
  2. Looking forward to this one. Would quite like to see Hazard, Giroud and Hudson Odoi lead the line for this but I reckon Willian will start ahead of one of the latter two depending on the system Sarri wants to play. However we lineup we'll have a lot more opportunity to break and counter than we have in recent weeks against packed defences. Plays in our favour. Always fancy us as "underdogs", plus we have a knack of upsetting title runs. Roll on Sunday!
  3. Pleased for Alonso, well taken header and a forward run with intent when we needed it. Very poor first half from him but hopefully that's a confidence boost for future appearances. Would much prefer Emerson for the Liverpool game though. Thought Willian for his creativity and Jorginho for his marshalling stood out over the 90, but it was a very forgettable team performance against a really fired up Czech side. Such a quality difference in Loftus Cheek and Hazard in particular over Barkley and Pedro too. Probably Pedro's worst game in a Chelsea shirt, their left back gave him nothing. Anyway, another important win, the away goal's always significant and hopefully we can push on with this lead in the home leg and get to the semi final. Big weekend ahead, no rest really but confidence should be good and we're starting to pick up big results, absolutely capable of taking points from Anfield regardless of their form. And for that small group of racist "fans" filmed, hope they're promptly banned by the club. No place at any football club for people like that, the sooner that message sinks in the better.
  4. To be fair to Slavia Prague, they've pressed us very effectively. Traore in their midfield has won everything loose in the middle. It genuinely looks like it's been a surprise to our players how good they've been, which surely shouldn't be the case. On the negative side Alonso's been awful, Pedro and Giroud haven't been able to hold a ball, and (despite a generally good work rate) our midfield trio can't find a pass forward. Need to see more from Willian too, he's been our only attacking threat so far but he's flitting in and out of the game. Unlucky with his trademark snap and curl shot. We miss Kante's tenacity, Luiz's vision and Hazard's magic, but there's enough quality on the pitch to get an important away win here. Need the "fringe" players to step up second half, this lineup's a lot better than that first half performance.
  5. Someone needs to have a word with Alonso. He's started horribly and his head's down. Its 0-0, get over the mistakes and get up to the pace of this match.
  6. Thought Sarri handled the Drinkwater questions very well. Journos super keen for a "not good enough" soundbite and he kept it very respectful.
  7. To be fair to him, its games like these I'm usually wondering why he's even needed, given the opposition don't press him. Hasn't looked like he's made good use of the time and space he's been given really, but tonight he drove forward and influenced our attacks a lot more.
  8. Very good performance, great three points. Thought Jorginho ran the show, some wayward forward passes but he had a real drive to inject the pace when needed, and take the sting out when the team needed to regroup. Giroud too, got the goal and although it wasn't a 'memorable' striker's performance, showed real fight and leadership in the final 3rd. Hazard and Loftus Cheek's goals were superb. And although I think Pedro and Willian are harshly criticized on this forum, Hudson Odoi's performance (first half in particular) was every bit as threatening as they've been at their best this season. Has to be in the starting rotation as often as they are on that form. Final hat tip goes to Christensen, thought he snuffed out a lot of attacks before they developed and played a very composed sweeper role, dealing with a few tricky overhead long balls really well. Solid team win, great couple of results to kick on in the final stretch of the season.
  9. Really tricky first half, Brighton packing their box very effectively and pose a threat on the counter. Hopefully we can avoid the token post half-time brain fart and find a 2nd early to kill this. Sort of game we could use a Fabregas in place of Jorginho for the intricate passing. Azpi's move for the goal was crucial though, and need more of that from him, Emerson, Kante and Ruben. Promising from Hudson Odoi too, got the assist and he's definitely justifying the first start in the league. Good work rate and discipline to cover defensively too, which is the usual criticism. Sliced shot could've happened to anyone, hope he keeps his head up and smashes home the next chance. Looking forward to the second half!
  10. Although there were a lot of justified criticisms of the starting lineup, the one that I thought held us back the most was Jorginho - not so much that he played poorly, but more that he was never needed in this sort of game. Looked a more creative side against a defensive opponent when he came off - two attack-minded midfielders in Barkley and Loftus Cheek, and Kovacic a more dynamic deep lying midfielder than Jorginho is. We've deperately needed a scrappy 'team-building' late win. Hopefully that's that shakes off the defeatist attitude we've had when trailling recently. The 3 points were all that mattered, so long as we can kick on and keep picking up wins, roll on Wednesday!
  11. It's a good way away from my ideal lineup too but that's still a strong side, with a lot of talent to bring on if needed. There's a lot of games in a short window coming up, it might not be the rotations everyone wanted but the key thing is results. The 11 picked are plenty good enough to win this, lets see if we can get back to away wins. Looking forward to it!
  12. Have to completely disagree on Klopp and Guardiola getting their "styles" nailed down pretty quickly. Guardiola in particular was under massive pressure throughout his first season, barely spoke to the media by the end and looked damn close to walking. He was consistently hounded for putting system first despite the players' (particularly goalkeeper and defenders) struggles. Not suggesting it's all clicking into place just yet but we at least appear to have some direction and footballing philosophy, and despite the bumps along the way we're doing OK. The team seem a lot more together than they did under Mourinho or Conte, and despite the media narrative we keep showing glimpses of brilliance in this setup, I'm happy to be patient and see it develop. This was an important win, made all the more difficult given Fulham's managerial change, and but for better finishing would've been a more comfortable scoreline. I just don't like the negativity, it's another 3 points and we're one game in hand from the top 4, I'd say we're on the right track.
  13. Pretty much the team expected, Kepa sitting out is understandable but frustrating. Always fancy us at home, Spurs obviously have a lot of quality but so do we, and some excellent options on the bench. If we're as organised and fired up as we were on Sunday this will be a good night, looking forward to it!
  14. While I agree Hudson Odoi and Loftus Cheek were more incisive, I also think the ground work done by Barkley and Pedro was so critical in the first place. City always set out to bulldoze through teams early with their aggressive pressing before shutting up shop with possession late on. Pedro and Barkley were incredibly well disciplined (as were the rest of our midfield) and City visibly tired - the press dropped and it allowed our creative (and arguably less defensively savvy) substitutes the time and space to make an impact. I personally think Sarri got his team and tactics spot on from the players available, just unfortunate the breaks didn't go our way (Kante, Hazard's offside) and the penalties too.
  15. Great performance, significant step in the right direction after the thumping we received at the Etihad. Disappointing not to win the penalties but it's always a 50/50. The Kepa scene was regrettable, but I don't see either player or manager dragging this out, it'll be dealt with and forgotten quickly. Players, fans and coaches should be proud of today. Statement that we're continuing in the right way for me. Still fancy us to push on in the Europa League and make a late challenge for top 4. Considering how many obstacles we've faced this season - extremely limited pre-season prep, an owner unable to enter the country and a massive playing style change - we're doing pretty well despite the popular media narrative. Still excited for the rest of this season and beyond.

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