Some of us are finding it hard to obliterate memories of the game at Newport. It was muddy and windy, not sunny and sandy, but we still picked big, clumsy players in the attacking half … to grace a donkey derby … to play them at their own game. And play them at their own game we did – a mid table Div 2 clash, and we weren’t even that good at it.
This game began agonisingly, ponderous at the back, and clumsy on the part of some of the usual suspects. Newport, to their credit were everywhere (before they began to experience the Wembley expanse as wide Serengeti plains). Not again! Thankfully, this time we had some mobility, speed of thought and even flair, on from the start. Thank God for Son! Lamela’s got it too. A lucky goal and the presence of players of this quality began to tell.
The gulf between our first team and the squad is, let’s be frank, considerable. As more of the first team appeared, we were able to open up a tiring side at will though we were embarrassed to score a hatful and modestly settled for sufficiency.
VORM – 6
Had gone to school on the Lloris’s predictability in playing out short from the back. Thankfully moved on from that! Made a good punch and a save.
FOYTH – 6
Started poorly, ended badly, but in between showed progress. Bought as a poor man’s John Stones, a ball playing centre back. These players always need lots of time to establish their confidence and feel. In the meantime, they can look like a vulnerability. But I say good luck to him. I’m more than happy to be patient.
ALDERWEIRELD – 7
Don’t care. Did a job. Barely noticed. Point is he got the necessary match time. Point is we need him back. This game just wasn’t the point.
AURIER – 5
I would have begged for a straightforward lacklustre performance like this in the early games. Against this kind of opposition though, there should have been threat down the flanks and he didn’t really provide any. The right back berth is still unsettled since Walker’s departure; neither quite claims it convincingly, consistently enough.
ROSE – 6
Anonymous for half an hour, he then started to attack down the flank and look like he relished the chance to burst into dangerous spaces. Point again is game time. Won’t challenge Davies for the big games in the short term but we’re looking forward to the Rosey of old.
WANYAMA – 7
Must have borrowed someone’s boots at the week-end, bless him, because he had his own shooting boots back on today! Of our enforcers, the most mobile. So, useful game time. Is he fit enough yet to take over from Dier against Juve? Maybe not?
WINKS – 6
In that testing first half hour, I thought he might be the man to manoeuvre us out of lumpen predictability. Subsequently, a water carrier, and that nagging doubt: he doesn’t bring enough to the game. We feature these players from time to time. He’s a stronger presence than Carroll but maybe Carroll had a better eye for a pass. He’s young and that buys him time in my book; I’ll keep watching and hoping.
SISSOKO – 4
I’m losing patience with players who are willing and don’t have the talent. The ball bounces off him; he doesn’t match opportunity with confidence. Every cross hits a defender – it’s just that one of them rebounded into the goal. He gets credit, however, for having something to do with a goal when we didn’t look like producing one.
SON – 9
Sometimes Son plays for the ‘first team’ and looks a class above, so should we be surprised when playing with the ‘seconds’ he looks a class apart? Not even sure we would have carried enough threat as a team if he hadn’t played from the start. I’ll spare you the litany of skills he graces the game with, on this occasion. But, he’s quite something!
LAMELA – 8
Are you one of the supporters who, like me, has retained a soft spot for the Argentine boy wonder? OK, he’s not got the two footed threat that Son has – he uses his right foot for turning on the tap in the bath – but he has, what is it, an arrogance that makes your heart sing? He defines what to ‘pop off’ a ball might mean. If he can ‘give a player the eyes’ he will, even for the most pedestrian of passes. He runs in that unique, hurrying way, tackles back harem scarem. And longs for the jink, the overhead, the slide in pass, the things that get you to the edge of your seat.
LLORENTE – 3
I can’t watch some of the beheading on Game of Thrones. I cover my eyes when balls run in the direction of Llorente. I just know something bloody is about to happen. I’m so sorry; he has had an illustrious career; it shouldn’t end this way, not at my club.
Walker-Peters got another run out and almost scored. He was feeble in the earlier Newport game but the poor sod keeps getting played out of position – he’s actually a right back and it seems only fair he should be given the opportunity to start there.
Dele, and more particularly Eriksen, looked a class above.
But then they’re from the Spurs ‘first team’, not the ‘squad’, and there’s a difference. A real difference. Welcome, with interest, Lucas Moura!
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