There was I feel two mistakes which cost us the game against Norwich at the weekend, and they aren’t the two which lead to them scoring two goals. I am talking about the personal on the field. Two very important players to this team were over looked and we missed them for the first half, and with half a game wasted it’s no wonder we lost the game.
I am of course talking about Shaun Maloney and Franco Di Santo both of whom featured on the bench. Why though? Why leave our best creative midfielder and tireless worked (Shaun Maloney) on the bench for the first half, then why leave the man who causes defences problem with his sheer persistence to run at them and close them down. To me it didn’t make sense.
Yes Mr Gomez has been in fine form, yet Shaun gives us that extra edge which Jordi doesn’t seem able to conjure up consistently. Fair enough Maloney has been out injured, yet you give him 45-65 minutes of the game, get the team on top and hopefully in the lead then bring on you fit player who can run is head of for the rest of the game and cause more havoc.
Maloney proved the point within the first six minutes of playing against Norwich, when he scored. Dropping into the gap between the defence and the midfield he was willing to pick the ball up before laying it off to someone else. That was what we needed in the first half to take the Norwich pressure off us.
Similarly Di Santo is a player who can take the pressure of the defence by chasing down the ball and looking to break down attacks coming from the opposition half. Or he is a man to look for the ball long i.e. the teams target man. Yet we didn’t have that luxuary, neither Boselli nor Kone have the height to be able to be that player in the Premier League, for me one of them has to play behind our Franco and feed off his good play creating space up front.
They of course weren’t the only problems. Losing James McCarthy at half time affected us. I am not knocking Jones or McArthur, but McCarthy has been arguably one of our best players of the season. The midfielder’s distribution still isn’t 100% there, but his closing down of players winning the ball and driving forward runs are a great help especially in the last 20 minutes of the second half. The player looks likely to miss the game against Arsenal but return for the away day trip to Everton.
Similarly we could also be without Adrian Lopez. The defender wasn’t at his best against Norwich, he was still winning the ball, yet he just looked a yard off the pace; that though wasn’t Lopez’s main concern come Saturday night, what looked like cramp is believed to be a hamstring strain. More news as we get it.
The key things to note though from the game, is that we did score, and we are still there or there abouts in terms of performances. We will have less than half of the senior squad members available for Arsenal (as far as I know at the current time of writing). That has to be the scary bit in the run up to the festive fixtures. We have four tricky games and we are likely to be playing with a very thin squad should someone else get injured, then we could be looking to the youth academy for more players.
This could very well be the reckoning time of the younger members of the team. Callum McManaman, Roman Golobart, Daniel Redmond, Frazer Fyvie and Felip Orsula all young lads in this current squad will now have to stand up and be counted in the coming weeks if they do feature for the side.
All of them have talent, the question is, are they ready for the big time?