Arguably an end of season performance but with still seven games to go it’s more likely a game in which tiredness and lack of tactical nous exposed our shortcomings.
Mason and Bentaleb have looked done in for the last few games but were sent out once again whilst Stambouli and Dembélé chatted about their summer holidays on the bench (beach?). Chadli’s consistently lightweight and peripheral displays were salvaged by his goals pre January but it’s been hard to see what he adds to the side for a while now – and that’s putting it very kindly. Chiriches’s extra touches and misplaced passes resemble a player throwing a game in a bad film whilst Townsend continues to frustrate with his decision making and apparent nervousness. Tactically, by forcing everything down the middle – the bored subs could’ve sunbathed undisturbed in the acres of space free on the left hand side – we blunted our most potent weapon; in what is becoming a familiar sight Kane was crowded out whenever the ball was anywhere close to him.
No goals in two games against Burnley and Villa? I think we may have been found out.
The display bore a strong resemblance to the early season games against Stoke and West Brom when we were narrow and slow and there was more chat than singing in the crowd. Villa’s support was loud initially but had joined in the general slumbering until Benteke reacted quicker than Fazio to a speculative cross and flicked a header off the inside of the post and in. This was the away team’s first attack and they very nearly doubled their lead from their second shortly afterwards when Agbonlahor hit the post after Benteke had nodded on a hoof forward. We huffed and puffed with Rose making using of the space in the top left probably our best chance of creating something. Villa sat and feigned and time wasted but who can blame them? Harry wriggled free at one point and grazed the bar but it was Delph who had the best chance to add to the scoreline, his comedy miss summed up a poor quality game.
As at Burnley there was too much incompetence, too much ordinariness and too much trying the same thing again and again with no reason to think it would work this time. Oh for some pace and invention. At Turf Moor we had the excuse of injuries and a cobbled together back four, here it was just dull and disappointing. There are too many passengers.
It was nice to see that Yedlin actually exists, apart from that though….
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