Busy, busy, but still wanted to write something about our narrow win against the Cherries.
Eight observations from an ugly but vital win:
- How ordinary did we look at times? It was a game of grinding and sweating: substance over style. The 3-4-3 formation worked well, though. Kola and Bells stretched the game and this created space for Iwobi and Mkhi to strut their stuff in between the lines. Auba had to run a lot as there was space for him too, and in the end he found the opening that won us the game.
- Mkhi and Auba had a lot of decent to good chances but both lacked composure when it mattered. It is weird to see Mkhi waste so many opportunities as he is one of the technically more capable midfielders in the PL. But this season he really is struggling taking his chances and surely this cannot go on? Let’s hope he will be able to add deadliness up-front to his work rate and enthusiasm.
- Iwobi is a slow starter but once he gets going – usually in the second half – he really can make the difference. Iwobi’s throughballs have really improved and he found Kola regularly in space. Question is: why does it take so long for Alex to warm up and strut his stuff?
- It was good to see Kola enjoy himself with strong penetration on the left side. His reward were two assists and being a constant threat and outlet for the ball throughout the game. Unfortunately, we also conceded a goal at a crucial time from the left back area, where King could shoot at goal with all the space and time in the world.
- Xhaka-Torreira looked a bit tired but still dominated proceedings for us. Let’s hope they both get a break now and do not travel East this week. Unai took a risk by subbing the Uruguayan for Guendouzi with still ten minutes to go, but he got away with it. It was good to see Torreira penetrate the space in front of midfield time and again, and he got really close to his first goal for the club. What a player!
- Leaving Ozil out made us look ordinary. How he would have loved the space and width that were available yesterday. I sincerely hope that Ozil and Unai will work well together going forward, as we need our German maestro to be the centre of this team. I feel that not all is well, though. 😦 TBC.
- Kamikaze Mustafi had one of those dramatic, give-it-my-all-and-chance-it-a-bit games we have become used to. We gave away too many chances, and on another day we would have conceded more and not got away with all three points. Is he the only one to blame….? Not sure but I wonder whether he will still be a regular starter after the January transfer window.
- This win sets us up very nicely for the Spuds game. A win would really get us close to both the Chavs and Spuds in the top four and let’s hope Unai will get us in the right frame of mind to make it happen. Ugly does it for now.