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About spadefx

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    On the Bench

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  1. Glad we won tonight, but thought Derby were particularly good, and with better composure in front of goal both ends that could've been 5-5. Our second string defence performed like one, and I don't think any of the 4 will elbow their way up the pecking order on that evidence. Thought the midfield was good under the high press, but we did miss the more direct threat Hazard, Pedro and recently Barkley show. And Morata still hesitating in and around the box, which is incredibly frustrating given his positioning (and midfield service) was really good tonight. More food for thought than positives I reckon, but happy with another win.
  2. Another great game to watch, delighted with the result again too. Agree that we gifted them a chance too many, but we created enough to have scored more ourselves, it was a deserved win. Thought Barkley took his opportunity well, pressed their midfield all day and got the reward with the assist, and a goal to cap a great performance. I'll agree Azpi had a poor first half at least, and I'm fairly certain Bertrand has had the beating of him before. Can't think of many matches he's ever let us down though, and we still kept a clean sheet, so not dwelling on a few rare one-on-ones lost. Luiz and Rudiger in particular were once again solid. Its a shame another international break's sneaked up, but what an unexpectedly superb start to the season we've had. Really enjoying our football so far under Sarri.
  3. Pleased for Barkley. Kovacic has been great in that role so it must've been dilemma for Sarri to rotate. Happy to see he's willing to tweak that trio, hope it works well today. Agree with most that Pedro's looked the better all round option to Willian, but if he's still recovering from the shoulder knock it makes sense. He's a great attacking threat to bring on from the bench if needed too. It's a strong squad, Southampton won't be an easy game, but if we create as much as we have been we should have the quality to go into the international break with another three points. Looking forward to this!
  4. Cant help but think we're not giving our oppositon enough credit sometimes. We had a few fringe players not at their peak, but Vidi did play well. The technical gap is obvious, but they were organised and looked as physically sharp as us. They're clearly league champions for a reason, all professional footballers I believe, they have their fair share of experienced internationals too. Expecting our 'second string' that have barely played together in competitive matches to coast to victory was surely unrealistic. Happy we have another 3 points. I think it was 8 changes? So Sarri's giving a lot of players opportunities and rests, which is what we're all calling for in these matches. Yeah more youngsters could've featured for sure, but we have no idea how they actually fit in the club setup. Do they shine during training? Do they fit in with the squad day to dau or shy off in the background? Do they have the mental strength to command a first team place? I'd speculate maybe not, or at least in Sarri's opinion right now maybe not. Ampadu, Hudson Odoi... even Drinkwater and Loftus Cheek have to be way down the current pecking order for a reason. Probably a couple of unpopular opinons, but just some thoughts.
  5. That's a fair point, I'm maybe being harsh on Cesc as that is the highest pressing team we've faced this season, and you're right that it wasn't exclusively him struggling. Agreed Jorginho will have his biggest test so far at the weekend, I'm optimistic that he'll shine.
  6. What an incredible goal from Hazard that was, absolutely top class. Didn't see us finding a way back with their pressing really boxing us in, but I thought we (finally) upped the urgency at just the right moment. Really missed Jorginho tonight, Cesc can pick a glorious pass when he has the time and space, but we were caught in midfield far too often, and the guilty party was often him or his pass putting someone else in trouble. In fairness, Barkley and Kante had moments too, but its so critical in that deep lying role. Morata ran his socks off again but really doesn't hold possession anywhere near enough for a Premier League target man. We had no out ball without Giroud and Alonso, and I think Liverpool clocked that 2nd half when they started pressing higher. Similar problems we've had all season, but its hard to take too much from a performance with so many rotations. Great win though, and I really fancy us at full strength against their first XI at the weekend. Roll on Saturday!
  7. Personally don't think tiredness was the factor at the weekend, we were slow in the final third and our only real goal threat in Pedro's absence, Hazard, seemed determined not to take a shot on himself. I don't know what our best solution is up top. There maybe is an opportunity for Hudson Odoi here if Pedro's unavailable, but I think there's probably a good few midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order, I suspect Moses will come in if two of the regular three wingers are left out. I'd quite like to see Barkley in Kante's role, with Loftus Cheek in Kovacic's. Maybe a pipe dream, but for me there's a bit more attacking threat there, even if we lose that defensive tenacity. Minutes for Christensen is a must for me too. I'd imagine Cesc and Zappacosta will play also, although for both its surely a case of match fitness for injury cover, I can't see either fitting in our strongest XI. No idea how much Liverpool will rotate but I can't see us making as many changes as we did in Europe. Every cup competion's important, and continuity in the new system just as much. Looking forward to it, hope we can react to the weekend's disappointment with a big win here.
  8. Credit to West Ham for a well organised performance, they created the biggest chance of the match so we're maybe fortunate to leave with a point. Thought Giroud played well for the opening 30, then disappeared. And for what Morata's offering us we could've put absolutely anybody up top to the same non-effect. Needed more byline runs and cut backs, but our wide play continually went back to the edge of the box, West Ham planned for this and swarmed us out every time. Desperately needed a Pedro between the lines or someone willing to take on a full back. Incredibly frustrating that we kept repeating the same movements to the sam effect. Highlights the need again for another forward with a finishing touch, because for all of the (at times even today, superb) midfield build up, we don't test the keeper anywhere near enough. It's still progress, and it's probably a performance giving a fair reflection of where we are at the moment, but for all our quality we are in real need of a cuttig edge to be realistically competing for the league this year.
  9. Cardiff have been better than I'd expected, hadn't seen them this season and figured they'd sit deep for the first hour. The time wasting been frustrating but they're definitely a dangerous side, particularly at set pieces which is no surprise. Still not a fan of our zonal marking, always think everyone's too stationary to compete properly with an attacker that's had a run up. Hazard's been a joy to watch again, I'll never tire of watching him play. Giroud's had a great half as well, as have the supporting midfield pack. Hope we can get another goal or two early to finish this off.
  10. spadefx

    Mateo Kovačić

    Didn't know much about him before he joined admittedly, can't actually remember seeing him stand out in the few RM games I've seen in recent years, but he's looked great so far. Has all the aggressive tenacity we've been needing in the centre of midfield, his close control has been excellent, he's quick to move the ball on forward, and seems in really in sync with Hazard on the left. Obviously he'll need time to settle in to the team and league before we see the best of him, and we have a very fired up Barkley waiting to rotate in / and push to displace him. Didn't expect we'd have really good selection problems in central midfield this season, but glad for it.
  11. Delighted with the win, we've managed to get 12 from 12 while still really finding our feet in this system. Probably a bit fortunate Bournemouth opened up in the second half, if they'd camped up for a draw all game I don't think we were going to cut through. Pedro the difference for me (yes he had a lot more space to operate in when he came on than Willian had), he looked so keen to run at and in behind defenders, and took the gamble on a shot in area where a lot of our attacks break down and recycle. There was again a few mistakes that could've cost us, but they're becoming less frequent, I think this is all shaping up to be a really positive season.
  12. We'll have to agree to disagree, it wasn't a stellar performance from him but he put in a shift, and Giroud had the same trouble for 20 of his 30. And maybe Hazard's knock in the first half stuck with him? There wasn't a lot of space to sprint, and Yedlin's pretty rapid himself. Hey ho anyway, its a win, cheers to 3 more points!
  13. To be fair on Morata, he had 2 of 3 centre backs glued to him at all times, and still managed to hold up and distribute today. I don't think he did his job any better/worse than the rest of our attackers today, given what we were up against.
  14. I know we've set up ultra defensively in the past, but Newcastle didn't even attempt to play for 80 minutes. I know a few Newcastle fans, and that must've been painful to support. Don't think we approached our attack quite right, too slow and central a lot of the time. Credit to Alonso for breaking the lines, although it wasn't a penalty. And elbow on Giroud aside, their goal is exactly why Luiz is a liability in games, solid for 89 minutes but switched off at a crucial moment that could've cost us two points. Foul or not, and even if he thought he heard a whistle, his instinct has to be to defend the cross regardless. That aside its three points, 9 from 9, and we're far from the finished article. Couldn't really ask for a better start.