Covering both the Lyon games and the West Ham win
His star continues to rise. Some might be calling us a ‘one man team’ and they are not entirely wrong. Apart from Holtby and Lennon (less so at the moment), Bale is the only attacking threat we have. He is the only one who looks like scoring, and one of the few who looks like he might create something. When he was lining up for that second free kick you just knew it was going in, and his last minute winner on Monday was immense.
Lyon (H) – 88th min sub, 90th min winner
Lyon (A) – 84th min sub, 90th min equaliser
West Ham (A) – 90th min sub, 90th min winner
Coincidence? Yes, but with Parker struggling since his return (more on that later) Jake does offer a capable replacement and I’m surprised he has not been used more. He offers a simply, effective game, and while it’s easy to come on late and fresh against tired opponents and look impressive, it is not a surprise that our passing has speeded up with Livermore on instead of Parker. It would be an absolutely massive call to play him in the derby on Sunday, but somewhere down the line Jake should see some more game time.
Made the bench against the Hammers, came on for Dembele for the final quarter of an hour and did not look out of place. Also picked up an assist
Delighted for Siggy that he scored his first PL goal for us. I feel he has been slightly underused this season, and when he has been used he has been played in the wrong position. It’s clear a centrally advanced position does not suit him but he has the technical skills and work rate to play in midfield. Like Livermore, might see some more game time with two games a week coming up.
He was firmly in the bad week section until his great goal against Lyon. That masked a pretty awful display by the Belgian, who has not formed a partnership with Parker yet (more on that later).
His goal was what he is all about – getting the ball, beating a man, finishing. There is very little value beating a man in your own half when there are another nine to get through, but thirty yards out it can be very, very effective. We’ll talk more about that in a second.
He also walked a very fine line after his early booking in the West Ham game and I’m surprised he wasn’t subbed earlier.
At least the old man got to stretch his old legs.
The person in the number 8 shirt is a shadow of his former self.
What you used to get with Scotty Parker was a battling, someone who would go haring after the ball, get stuck, win it back, induce a high tempo in team mates, get the blood flowing, and give it simple to someone else. If in danger he’d do his 360 spin and then play it off.
What we get now is someone who doesn’t get tight to the opposition, instead marking space, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the space he is marking is too far away from the centre backs he should be protecting.
What is also worrying is his passing. We all know he is no Xabi Alonso but he is trying passes that are either too risky or simply straight to the opposition, he doesn’t take a look around him to see what options he has before he gets the ball, meaning his play is very blinkered and he will only play the way he is facing, and because of this and most critically of all he is far too slow in possession. He takes too many touches, doesn’t do the simple, doesn’t do it quickly, doesn’t do it accurately. He spins back into trouble, and his lunge on Carroll for the penalty was reckless and foolish, and he’s lucky it did not cost us in the end.
He’s clearly not in form so give him a break and play someone else.
The Parker-Dembele partnership
The problem is we could carry one of Parker or Dembele if the other was in form or taking charge. They’re not, however, and their styles do not complement each other. Neither sit in the anchor man role, nor do they get together to form a shield in front of the defence, they are both too slow in possession and too narrowed in their vision. They don’t press the opposition effectively, they don’t dovetail properly. To see a sign of just how badly they are doing look at the work Holtby has to do – press the opposition’s defence with the striker, come deep to pick up the deeper midfielder, then deeper to help shore up our central midfield...
Against Lyon, especially in France, they were dire, and it was the foundations for our stymied attacking play and also the basis on which Lyon countered so dangerously. A better team would have ripped us to shreds. You can go far back as the first half against West Brom to see how badly they expose our defence. It only takes one pass and the opposition is running at our back line.
When we were in possession they were sitting side by side, too far out for Dembele to do his thing, and too easy to defend against. When we lost possession the central midfielders parted like the red sea, Parker getting dragged towards the ball but not getting tight to the player, while Dembele man marked one of his counterparts without realising we were actually outnumbered in central midfield. This meant Grenier could stroll forward without being tracked, and Gomis could be played the ball without a hint of an interception.
All it needs is a few tweaks but you can see Dembele really misses the reassurance of having Sandro alongside him.
Had recovered some form after what I like to call ‘2 steps forward 1 step back’ syndrome that affects young players early in their career, but Kyle still has a worrying knack for giving away silly free kicks, one of which nearly cost us in France. Given he has so much space there is no need to foul. Even if he gets done by a bit of skill he can still get back into position, seems a little stupid give away free kicks when the player is either miles from goal or going nowhere. To be fair, his sliding block challenge against Jarvis on Monday was very good defender.
(written during Lyon game) For about ten minutes a match Adebayor looks like a professional footballer. The rest of the time he looks so out of form and/or lacking in motivation you wonder if he is a member of the public who has won a competition.
(Written after West Ham game) What. A. Miss. The only positive thing you can say is at least he was getting in a goalscoring position, but if he can’t even take the gilt-edged chances then what chance does he or Spurs have?
After the miss there did seem to be a bit more drive and focus from Manu, and a North London Derby might be exactly what he needs to kick start his season, but 3 goals in 20 matches is poor for a midfielder, let alone a striker.
It is almost like he knows what he should do, but he just can’t finish the job. He knows he needs to get in front of the defender, offer an option for a pass, control the pass, then do something with it. He gets in front of the defender, offers the option, controls the pass kinda, then allows the defender to get a foot in or muscle him off the ball, and that initial good work is completely wasted. Maybe he needs to get mad, maybe he needs more confidence, but as AVB said the player himself needs the motivation, the coaching staff can only do so much.