With 2 key players out for the recently better performing opponents, and us pretty much back to full strength, we could have taken this game by the scruff of the neck and started to hold off those with games in hand.
But we didn’t. This post Xmas lull seems to have gone on long enough, and I know we played a hell of a lot of games in December and maybe some of the lads are due a rest. But if you make the decision to not reinforce in January, this will always happen !
Soucek and Antonio are flagging big time, and Rice was very poor in the first half (again !). We are papering over the cracks by not losing but we are losing ground to those in the pack chasing us, including 2 London rivals and a resurgent Wolves, who we play next !
I don’t really know what we can do with the exception of giving the lads time off on light exercise duties. We are still fighting on 3 fronts and the squad need all their fitness during March and April.
And the game……. It looked like many other recently, with us huffing and puffing with no end result. Surely this experiment of playing Rice and Soucek the wrong way round has to stop at some point. Once again Soucek looked lost, and both his and Rice’s timing was off. It was Rice’s poor clearance that led to their equaliser just before half time (again).
Zouma was back in , and seems to handling the cat calls well. Which is all we can hope for at this stage. Dawson played well again, proving that he can do it at this level as long as he is not the decision maker in the back four. And he got another goal !
Benrahma again offered nothing, and then when we needed some urgency to get off, he just jogged like he had all the time in the world. Moyes was not having this at all, and gave him both barrels.
And here’s my point. We tend to do the same thing week in week out. Have the team lost respect for the manager? This model is not producing like it did, and we are not changing it up. Are they bored? 67 minutes, Benrahma for Lanzini. 70 minutes, Fornals for whoever. It’s the same every week.
I’m not Moyes out, but surely he sees we need plan B (she said !) and we need to play to our strengths. Which means moving around the central midfield back to the one that scored 13 goals between then last season (currently 4?).
MOTM Dawson, for actually connecting with the ball with his head, and it wasn’t from a corner. BTW you do meet some strange people at football……