After Thoughts on: The Festive Period

Michael Regan

Its been a long time since I wrote one of these. Its been a long series of games, and we have come the other side of it and have three points for it. Not as good as we wanted, but at least it is better than nothing.

Four games have past and three points have come out the other side. Arsenal, Everton, Aston Villa and Manchester United have all faced us and we have stood up to the challenge each time and have put in some memorable performances. Yet it hasn't been enough to get many points.

We won the game we really had to win. Beating Aston Villa was important, keeping in contact with the teams around us and not letting them get one over us. We did that and we did it well, with a full strength squad we ran out 3-0 winners and looked good for it. Yet there were still gaps especially in our defense.

They were exploited against Manchester United has we fail to stop making individual mistakes which are costing us goals. The same happened against Arsenal and Everton. We were heading for a draw against Arsenal before Jean Beausejour caught Theo Walcott and he tumbled for a penalty.

Its these things we need to tighten up on. Making more decisive decisions and being stronger and more determined in the tackle. Towards the end against Manchester United we were tired and minds wandered and the players were wanting to have a break after a busy two weeks.

Its now a case what can we do? We need to improve in some fashion. Last season there was a change in mentality at this time of year and we solidified the back three as we know it. The difference was we had Antolin Alcaraz, could he change it this season? Who would you remove in the back three for his presence?

For me Jean Beausejour has to be dropped, he has been so bar these past few games, especially defensively. Playing Figueroa in the wing back position and allowing Alcaraz to slip into the back three could make a huge difference to the second half of the season, the experience defender will be a big boost upon his return.

The other area we need to see a change is going forward. The simple fact at the moment is we aren't scoring goals. Kone may have bagged one against Villa but the striker has missed far more than that in the festive period. The same could be said for Franco Di Santo who has not really managed to burst onto the scene going forward as many expected.

With a new striker coming in, can he make the difference? I don't think so personally. It is time Franco showed what he can do. We have seen him play as the main man, and play really well. Time for a step up in performance from him and change to play him more centrally from Martinez could make a difference to our attacking capacity.

When he does play centrally you can see how he can cause so much trouble. Rio Ferdinand couldn't cope with him when the ball was at Di Santo's feet. The striker has come a long way since we first signed him, and he still have a long way to go.

The signs are good, we have been through a tricky spell of four games, and we now go into a spell of four games which are winnable. Fulham and Stoke City away, and then Sunderland and Southampton at home, all are games we must feel we win and go into win.

Yet before that we have the chance for a break in the FA Cup.

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