So far this season we have seen some great possession football…. from our back four! This is not entirely a bad thing as AVB wants to mainly play out from the back, however there has been a real lack of intensity at times. In some matches it has reminded me of playing 7 a side footy with my mates where in the last 10 minutes no one can be arsed to move into space to either receive the ball or to draw a player out and create space elsewhere. This then ends up with someone having the ball, basically standing still, while no opposition defender pressurises him and inevitably playing the ball backwards or square. Sometimes this is totally fine because we are trying to get it to our wide men (or man [Townsend]) who can really try to penetrate the opposition defence. A lot of the time we have seen inverted wingers with Gylfi and Townsend on the opposite flank of their preferred foot. This has worked reasonably well so far however, Lennon is back and should be starting on the back of last season, but him on the left is nowhere near as effective as when on the right. So this formation, along with two central midfielders, another in the hole and Soldado, has been AVB’s plan A.
In the league so far, I can only think of Norwich and 1st half against Chelsea where this worked really effectively. Norwich helped us by being truly awful and we had great urgency against Chelsea 1st half. All the other games have been a very patient, if not frustrating experience. Cardiff was a 93rd minute winner, Hull an 80th minute (undeserved penalty) and Palace 1-0. All these games we completely dominated but with no sign of a breakthrough AVB stuck with his plan A for the majority.
On Sunday before I watched Spurs Hull, I watched the Tyne-Wear derby. Sunderland scored in the first 5 mins and after 20 minutes, Pardew could see his favoured tactics werent working. So, what did he do? He matched Sunderland like for like, with the thought process of “well we have better players so we should be able to beat them”. It should have worked, as Newcastle were by far the better team but couldn’t get the winner. This tactic is a tactic i feel AVB should have a look at. Look at the teams we have beaten… nearly every position we have considerably better players so if we line up the same as them then surely we will create more chances?
In the Hull match, when Defoe came on and we went with 2 upfront it did make a difference. It gave the central defenders a headache because all afternoon dealing with one striker was easy enough, especially when we continued to try and pick our way through the middle of the defence instead of using our pace down the flanks. Soldado thrives on balls crossed into him, just watch any video montage of him at Valencia. Cup games we have been fine because we have played weakend or significantly worse teams than ourselves so these problems haven’t arisen. In the Premier League, which is so competitive, we are gonna come up against ‘parked- bus’ teams and AVB needs to either be a little more creative or just match the opposition and say “bring it on, we are better than you!”
Rant over, just some food for thought.
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