The scariest thought about a game where a draw v Middlesbrough was all we deserved is that, with the possible exception of Sissoko in for Dier, Jose started the XI that before this affair he would have selected to face the best team in the world in North London next weekend.
Given the regularity of our defensive breakdowns and the positively tepid and disjointed attack constantly on display, a result closer than 3-1 for the Reds would seem pretty unlikely.
As for this contest, it is simpler to call out those who didn’t impress instead of the handful that did. I suspect Jan was most at fault for the goal—a forward so simply splitting our defence is de riguer these days and, besides, his giveaway after our goal probably should have cost us the game altogether. Son was a hot mess yesterday; rusty, uncomfortable up top, poor in passing and decision-making—an all-around mare of a game.
Dele and Eriksen simply don’t offer enough—with the latter, there has been an ongoing easy excuse—with the former, we are back to that inconsistency that has plagued his play for a couple of seasons now—we simply don’t know which of Dele or Dele fils will show up. Winks deserved to come off early, he rarely did anything right. And Sessegnon too, a surprisingly passive presence on the left wing for far too many games now. Dier was passable, I suppose but in the absence of Ndombele I shudder to think what the likes of Fabinho, Wijnaldum or Henderson will do to him next weekend.
So as to the “S.A.” theme—Serge Aurier and South America, consider the following. Three quick saves from Argentine Gazzaniga saved us from going down in the first half (to be fair, Alderweireld also caught some of the last. Aurier was solid defensively, aggressive on the attack, won a bunch of 50-50 balls, and his cross got us the goal though his final horrific Sissokoesque shot over the bar wasted our best late opportunity.
Lucas Moura, the Brazilian, gets MOTM with some overall pesky play, the nice headed goal and a near-miss late when it seemed some of the other attackers had started to tire. And the two Argentines—Lamela and Lo Celso—made an obvious impact with their energy and aggression which helped turn the game enough to get the goal and threaten to win it.
So count this replay as a CONMEBOL special—only where is the Colombian Sanchez? Surely he and Lo Celso deserve to start soon—and Lamela will continue to get more time.
Can we make a deep Cup run? I suspect the replay will be difficult but a victory can and should be gained. Then it will depend on the draw if we can get to a quarterfinal without Kane and in the midst of what could be a Top Four challenge now in vain, and a Leipzig home and home tie which could easily go either way.
Of the three objectives remaining this season—not counting perhaps the biggest one, which is our manager determining what help he needs, who should go or stat, and he and Levy plotting a vital summer window—I suspect a deep FA Cup run might be the one with at least some chance of success.
But we need a backup striker and some defensive help to produce it—sell Eriksen, please and use the money in those two areas.
Have something to tell us about this article?