So, the positives first.
Erm…, let’s think.
It wasn’t a 3-0 game I’d say, more like a 5-2. Adebayor should’ve equalised within seconds of Sterling opening the scoring and Chadli definitely should’ve buried his effort just before half time. With a bit of help from Fatty Dowd we might’ve had more luck in the penalty area and around, despite their four bookings there was a lot of tripping pulling and shoving that went unpunished. Sturridge resorted to hugging Capoue (?) like he was the brother he’d never met at one corner. Rodgers’ Swansea used to press like they were auditioning for a role at Sketchleys and then foul on the halfway line the moment their midfield was breached, his Liverpool do the same.
We didn’t collapse at 3-0, though quite how Sterling missed his chance at that score is anyone’s guess and worse may have followed. Last year virtually every reverse was followed by the players disappearing and hiding and Hugo taking on strikers face to face (a la Sterling) but this time we held relatively firm and managed to keep the embarrassment quotient down to a shake of the head instead of resorting to asking other people what they do at weekends.
Pochettino now has a better idea of what needs remedying and where. He should have time on his side, Levy knows now that it’s not the manager that’s the problem, each of AVB, Sherwood and now Poch has witnessed this defence look just plain scared in the face of speed and the attack looks toothless when space is more akin to the Central than the Settle to Carlisle line. We can expect to see Dier or Fazio (though who can’t worry at the general observation that “he’s a bit slow”) for Kaboul and probably Stambouli soon. They’re Pochettino picks one hopes rather than Baldini’s. Not rocket science but I predict the four man attack will dropped, against the better teams at least. Three cloggers and three up front, a la Liverpool but probably not such a neat diamond as formed by the ‘athletes’ in red.
Aside from the ‘positives’, the timing of the goals could not have been worse. Sterling’s early effort was set back enough but despite Chadli missing we’d have been buoyed at half time. Dowd buying Allen’s flop kicked us again and Moreno’s highly impressive and clinical run and finish seconds after we’d made our two substitutions were a right bummer. Oh well, excuses and might have beens.
To say that nothing went our way would be very wrong of course. There were plenty of laughs during the afternoon; almost all provided by Ballotelli whose comedy finishing let us off the hook many times. Sterling should’ve made it four after his dribble in our area and Gerrard made a fuss about an Adebayor challenge that some refs might’ve taken notice of given his (squeaky Stevie’s) royal status in the game.
The form of Eriksen is a concern, Lamela looked lightweight and peripheral (he reminds me a tad of Adel Taarabt at the moment, I hope that’s temporary), we need proper cover for Walker at right back, Kaboul appears to be on his way out and just Adebayor up front isn’t enough. Too many replacements needed in too short a time for this season despite what happens tomorrow. I know it seems disappointing to write the whole campaign off already but as every Buddhist knows, it’s expectations that undermine unhappiness.
Sunderland away next up in a couple of weeks. Plenty of time to brood and then improve. COYS.
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