It was bad enough that two-thirds of our dependable central defence are in Croatia, and the other third was forced out of the game barely ten minutes in thanks to a woeful clearance attempt by his captain and goalkeeper.
Even worse, that our “attack” force was missing our two speediest players to injury, a third to the Croatia quarantine, and a fourth because he and his manager have just decided he can finally feature on the bench. Add to this a pitiful three across midfield consisting of players who don’t have a clue how to move the ball forward and a lack of energy in the first half that saw Palace continually pressing us, harassing us, and winning most of the 50-50 balls. And for good measure our manager didn’t seem to have a clue how to correct any of it.
So then our right back turned centre back gets stupid and our left back turned centre back forced into a 10 man situation gets even more stupid and the rest was inevitable.
A very bad day at the office, and in contrast to what Manchester United demonstrated in the game following, a team that appears to have no real prospects for the higher reaches of this league. With the likely defeats to Rennes Thursday because half of our lineup will be kids, and Chelsea on Sunday because, well, they’re just much better, and our season may take on a rather uninspiring prospect sooner than we could have thought.
Hopefully by the end of this miserable fortnight and the game at the Emirates, Nuno will figure out a proper and healthy XI to actually play a real game with a hope of a result. This team had none of that. Maybe Arsene Wenger has it right with a month long international break—because the last ten days have been disaster on top of disaster. COVID, injury, fatigue (Kane barely figured in any of the proceedings yesterday after Southgate’s curious non-substitution strategy v Poland) and a general lack of depth and we looked as ordinary as ordinary can be.
I will write it off as an aberration. For now. I fear there was a much larger truth hidden in the rubbish bin, though—that we are simply nowhere near any of the Top Four and may lack the verve and coaching nous to beat out at least one or two of the others (Foxes, Hammers, Gooners???). Tanguy—where are you? At least Dele played hard. Sergio saved a goal. And that was that. Hojbjerg and Skipp are not a winning pairing—unless you believe magical 1-0 results can keep happening. Get Gio and Tanguy and Bryan Gil into the mix—and pray we can overcome the injuries. Or this will be a longer year than the last two.
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