Poch the rotator…nator strikes again.
Out go Sanchez, Davies, Trippier, Alli (injury). In came Walker-Peters, Foyth, Rose, Moura. Again, good to see Poc utilising the squad. All reasonably logical choices, the only questions marks for me being Eriksen, who we know had an injury to manage earlier in the season but has now played a few consecutive games over a short period and Sissoko, who’s also been flogged hard recently.
I get the reluctance to rest Eriksen, especially when he’s in the groove, he’s the player that invariably elevates us from a good team to a great one, but we definitely don’t want him to burn out or his injury to flare up and miss him for longer.
We lined up in the orthodox 4231, with Sissoko and Winks the double pivoting CM’s. Eriksen, as ever, did spend a lot of time dropping in and helping the midfield, often splitting the two CM’s (and did actually end up seeing fractionally more of the ball than Sissoko), but he was definitely operating with a more ACM type default remit.
Got to say, I’ve been loving the more footballing three man (or 1+2) midfield we’ve played of late, and again today it was a very proactive midfield, but I’m not so sure of this structure with Winks and Sissoko as a more orthodox CM2.
I think both these players have slight issues defensively in a “2”. Both have good engines and are happy to cover ground, but both are more defensively reactive, rather than defensively instinctive.
Neither are great readers of the defensive game, nor are they rapacious “hunters gatherers”. When we play with Eriksen in the more withdrawn “8” role, although he’s not defensively tenacious either, there’s some safety in numbers, we can also play out from a press more easily and control retain the ball in midfield much better.
And I also don’t think Son offers enough protection down his flank to cover for having two cm’s instead of the three we play in the 4312/41212 format.
The result is there was often too much space on Rose’s flank and though we ran out 5-0 victors, that score doesn’t quite tell the whole story, as Bournemouth had several great chances to score as well. Sissoko, Winks and Son all have redeeming features and have played a huge part in this recent run of games, it’s more this 4231 structure that’s the issue, than those players per se. Seems crazy to say after a 5-0 mauling, but truth be told, we allowed Bournemouth way too many chances today.
That score line owed more to talented individuals and a good coached ethos, than the tactical structure.
This game had the whiff of the early stages of Everton about it. Two teams with reasonably ambitious intentions, making things too open for each other and Bournemouth created a couple of great chances in the first ten minutes.
The way we are playing at the moment, even if they’d taken one of them, it possibly wouldn’t have been fatal, but this trend did continue throughout the game and the story of the game was really about how even when we messed up we scored, and as hard as they tried, they couldn’t.
It’s really perverse how football works like this isn’t it? Some days you graft and craft your arses off, and it just won’t roll your way, then days like today it’s like even your mistakes roll in the net. Nothing perfectly encapsulating this more than our fifth goal.
After possibly being second best in the first 15 minutes, certainly chance wise, we found ourselves a goal up after a shot from Eriksen was deflected wickedly past their keeper.
Then bang, bang we’re three up. All three goals assisted by KWP, the third of which was the goal f the match. Winks picks out KWP’s run with a superb over the defence,
KWP picks out Moura with a first time volley that cross cut back and he slots home calmly. It was a lovely bit of football, indicative of the way we’ve been clicking lately.
Bizarrely for a 5-0 slabbing, this wasn’t exactly us out our scintillating best, there was a feeling of never really getting out of third or fourth gear.
I dare say there was inevitably some fatigue, mental and physical, but this is where that Poch coached ethos kicks in, hard work, good habits, good mentality, proactive footballing philosophy, combined with a bunch of attackers that are really in that groove right now. It’s almost like we did it sleep walking today. Which, in years gone by, was always the sign of great sides I was envious of.
That said, although our finishing and final third play was good, our transition play – from front to back on the counter – was very sloppy at throughout; lots of quick counters floundered because of some careless bumbling, with Son probably the gultiest.
The other criticism was how many balls into our box we allowed today. I think this was a lot to do with the shape and players in wide areas, but another day, we will get punished, Bournemouth wasted numerous good chances.
The fourth arrived courtesy of a lovely bit of vision fro Eriksen and a really classy finish from Kane.
Then the slightly comedy fifth goal rounded things off, to the tune of a Laurel and Hardy sketch, chances to finish came and went, first Kane then Rose slipping on invisible banana skins, the ball eventually squirms it’s way to the enigmatic Son who plopped it home.
Lloris – If Bournemouth had brought their shooting boots, he could have been worked harder, but what he did was OK. No issues.
KWP – A hatrick of assists for the kid is going to do his confidence the world of good. The third one being the highlight, great run in behind, cool technique under pressure to deliver the perfect cut back. Couple of defensively lax moments, but otherwise a really good performance. MOTM today.
Foyth – He’s got a little bit of the clumsy about the odd piece of defensive work he does, which still worries me a tad, but pretty good generally and very good on the ball.
Alderweireld – Good game
Rose – Decent enough generally. If only he had young KWP’s composure in forward areas, he would be far more productive, but he’s always been very unreliable when he gets into forward areas.
Sissoko – More jockeying than winning the ball, but overall a decent shift today.
Winks – Like Sissoko, not brilliant always out of possession, but put in a good shift and was once again very metronomic (73 passes 97%), helping control the ball and played a lovely pass for that killer third goal to pick out KWP. I don’t think this CM2, with no pure busy **** in there with him is ideal, as he’s still learning the defensive side of the game, and if he is going to play as the holder, he’s much better in a CM3.
Moura – Took his goal well and worked extremely hard without the ball, good game.
Eriksen – He’s really back in the groove now. Even on a slightly quieter day, he scored, provided a beautiful assist and still saw more ball than one of our CM’s.
Son – Another player who’s really on it in terms of his finishing. First half he bumbled away a few situations, especially on the counter, but still managed a brace of goals and was generally good.
Kane – Another forward who’s right back on it. I grumbled about his tendancy to “greediness” at the cost of the team sometimes at the end of last season. I think he’s really improved this side of his game, some of his hold up and team play this season has been the best I’ve ever seen from him, and we are reaping the rewards as a team. He’s been great the last few weeks, leading the line, holding it up, bringing others in, as well as the usual goals.