Very easy on the eye, in fact, is how I would describe the performance yesterday. It seemed almost effortless when in fact there was a considerable amount of effort being put in by every one of our players – so many congratulations to them and to the coaching staff for getting it this right so quickly after the international break.
That we are still integrating new signings into the team and the system makes it so much more pleasing. Admittedly Soldado and Paulinho have played together a few times and had the opportunity to get to know each other on the training ground and with the only other newbie – Eriksen – showing the class and talent he so obviously has, their inclusion was seemless. With Chadli and Capoue nursing injuries and Lamela jet lagged it made sense to use the experienced players left over from last year and all contributed admirably.
The defence – Lloris, Dawson and Vertonghen – were barely exerted, whilst Walker and Rose were able to bomb forward with almost gay abandon. Both are still vulnerable to getting caught out of position when doing so but have the pace to get back and know that their central midfielders will be covering. And did they cover as Paulinho was everywhere and Dembele for once showed that he can be a class act. They dominated the centre of the park.
Rose, however, seems to be developing an attitude and needs to be more in control of his anger: Letting rip at the officials as he did may be common practice at SAFs former Palace of Dreams but should not be seen at WHL. His constant ranting could easily have earned a caution or worse.
We all know what to expect from Townsend: direct running at pace either down the flank or cutting inside, tricky and forceful with either a cross or a shot – rarely a carefully timed ball into the path of a colleague and this is something he needs to work on. Shooting on the run is rarely successful – even old GB had to have many attempts before getting it right – so pulling in the opponents expecting a shot and then laying off would be a better end product.
Siggy on the other flank worked hard and although he drifted inside too much he did so to great effect, running onto a sublimly weighted pass and then getting on the end of a perfect cross field ball to collect a brace – his confidence will now be skyhigh.
Soldado worked hard as well with very little reward, he had a couple of shots but it was not to be his day – that belonged to another.
Our latest debutant stole the show. Christian Eriksen may only have cost 12M but it was worth very penny (or cent) as he was quite simply a revelation. Crafty and cunning on the ball, quick to see the right pass to the right colleague, he was agile yet strong in the tackle, His workrate was phenomenal, working from left to right and back again. The creative spark that we have lacked has been found.
Eriksen has more to his game than either Modric or Bale, he can use both feet in drifting past players, he has a killer instinct for the ideal delivery and can shoot as well as any in the Premiership. And at only 21 he has yeard of development ahead of him.
In my preview I suggested a 2-0 victory but also suggested I wasn´t expecting an impressive display – I got both.
It will take a little more time before we can translate what we have acheived so far into big, big wins but it is an excellent start – and we still have yet to see Lamela commence a game. Maybe, just maybe, that will happen on Thursday.
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