Three wins in the first three games, eight scored, Kane banging them in August, a new hero in Moura, Toby back in the fold, a hilarious win at Old Trafford. Happy days! Nothing to moan about there? Weeeelllllll…
What’s going on with our defence then?
A figurative mountain of stats has been produced as a result of Monday night’s game, one of which I saw was that the 25 shots that the home team had during the game was the largest ever achieved against a Pochettino managed Spurs side. This implies that the clean sheet was as much due to the profligacy of Lukaku and Lingard as a well organised defence wedded to the sharpness of Lloris.
Similar could be said of the games against Newcastle and Fulham. The Geordies and Fulham both scored and rattled/shook the woodwork with Mitrović & chums having other opportunities during that fifteen- minute spell at the start of the second half at Wembley where Fulham looked the better side.
We’re just not playing like the team that has shored up the defence of so many Fantasy League sides during the past four years nor one that’s difficult to peg back once it’s taken the lead – two equalisers conceded already.
Poch has played at least four different groups of personnel at the rear thus far in at least two systems. Is this indecisiveness? Does he not know what his best defence is? Probably neither. What with the drip feed of players returning to the squad from the World Cup and also from being “frozen out”, it’s more likely that he has just been adapting to what has been available to him. His decision to start with Rose and Alderweireld on Monday was as much based on the fact that they were still at the club as giving everyone a “clean slate”.
Whatever the reason behind the chopping and changing, it’s not a practice that’s breeding confidence & security. Downing a shot every time one of Shaw, Lingard or Fred popped up behind our full-backs on Monday is not a drinking game I’d have enjoyed.
There have been alterations elsewhere in the team with Moura, Eriksen and Dele in new (and varying) roles playing behind and supporting Kane. The increased freedom for our forwards may be translating into looseness at the rear. (Nasty). Monday was the first time we’ve started with two proper holding midfielders thus far…..but still 25 shots?!.
The integration of Winks as a foil to Dembélé could be very important. Harry II has the ability to replicate much of the work that Mousa does even if he doesn’t quite manage the bull-dozing slaloming runs that are the Belgian’s trademark.
It’s early days of course and we’ll need to wait to see Poch’s longer term plan for the season. Each year, he matures as a manager. Each year he adds another couple of formations to his armoury but as yet, we’ve yet to see one that I’m confident is going to sneak us to a one-nil win at Everton, Arsenal or Watford.
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