Brighton and Hove Albion 3-1 Chelsea – Defeated by a Flock of Seagulls

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Introduction

Even Hugh Grant was able to defeat a flock of seagulls, a little known fact revealed whilst being interviewed for a role in the “Battle of the 80s Has-beens”.

On the one hand, since this was a pre-season friendly, the match shouldn’t warrant a critical review because the players are still in warm up mode and results don’t matter. This was certainly true for our tour of the States where it was all about ensuring that each player played an equal number of minutes to get every squad member up to the same level of fitness. This makes sense from a sports science perspective. So who cares about drawing with Paris Saint-Germain and losing to MLS All-Stars and AC Milan, it’s all about fitness, team bonding, soaking up the atmosphere and making sure the players look great in their Dolce and Gabbana khakis.

On the other hand as the real event approaches performance and results do start to matter. I remember this well from my schooldays when I was receiving one to one French oral from Mademoiselle Fournier in advance of my O-Level. Personally I wasn’t too bothered that I thought “My aunt’s pen” was “Le prune de mon tarte”. It was all about getting the accent and pronunciation up to speed and worrying about the actual words a bit nearer the exam.

With this in mind, plus the fact it cost 30 quid per ticket which is no mean sum for a friendly, my review of the match is as if it were the real thing, not some meaningless training session.

Match summary

Stinking! We stunk the place out. Turgid slow motion similar to the end of AVB’s reign.

Team selection

Robbie has admitted that the States was all about warm up but Brighton and the Community Shield is where we settle on the likely starting team for the season and start building our patterns of play, or combinations in the modern parlance.

This being the case can anyone explain why we’d start with a midfield of Lampard, Essien, Meireles with Benayoun on the bench? Is this really the future? Where was Josh? Is Robbie seriously saying that Benayoun is more a part of our future than Josh? It really bemuses me that we can sign players like Marin and leave him out altogether and, even more bemusing, sign players and then put them straight out on loan. Surely our policy to loans is even more crazy than borrowing £100 from wonga.com?

Individual performances

  • Cech – let three in against Brighton. Don’t care whose fault it was.
  • Ivanovic – was our only attacking threat by making several runs down the right wing. Problem was that no one had communicated to Ivan that we are the new Spain, since we don’t possess a centre-forward to get on the end of crosses, so all his effort was a waste.
  • Cahill – frisky.
  • Terry – always gives 100%. You won’t see Terry getting chucked out the badminton for not trying.
  • Cole – the Mohican isn’t helping.
  • Meireles – is he just keeping the seat warm for Oscar? Josh is a fine seat warmer.
  • Essien – I thought he was finished two seasons ago. Not his fault he got injured but no longer a bison and more a poodle.
  • Lampard – at 34 he’s just happy to be here.
  • Ramires – remember the time I was the only one who could see his potential and everyone else slagged him off? Well he was like that just a bit worse. Poor bloke, he stepped into the breach last season by playing right wing and now he’s condemned himself to that position forever. Must be galling to look across at Essien and Meireles moving at snail’s pace knowing that he’s got the drive and energy to power us forward.
  • Torres – nice dummy. Yes, apart from a nice dummy to create the space for Lampard to score he was a nice dummy.
  • Hazard – we’ve already managed to convert France’s player of the year for successive seasons into the Chelsea way of playing negatively. I’m surprised he didn’t run down the pier and swim home.

Subs

  • Turnbull – didn’t do anything wrong but you know he’s only ever one step away from partnering Luiz as the Chuckle Brothers.
  • David Luiz – cataclysmic. Towards the end of last season we all thought he was maturing. Well he’s now been sent back to kindergarten. His first contribution was an attacking run with the ball to the edge of the Brighton box, territory where normal centre-backs don’t venture, only to lose the ball and then walk back slowly to his defensive position. Next he gave away a goal by trying to be clever and then attempting to mask his incompetence by faking injury. Lastly, to try and convince all of us that he really had been injured he sought retribution on a Brighton player by elbowing him in the head and causing a mass brawl (in a friendly).
  • Mikel – did what Mikel does.
  • Lukaku – after the American tour I’d concluded he is just a lump but actually he was surprisingly sharp when he arrived. One very neat turn and he left a Brighton defender for dust but then was crudely hacked down in his tracks. It was a surprise all afternoon as Brighton committed several cynical fouls and the referee was too embarrassed to book them because it was a friendly.

Unused substitutes: Ferreira (oh yes, our future so we’d better not put Chaloba on the bench), Hutchinson, Benayoun (also our future so we’d better not put Josh on the bench), Piazon (must have been an amazing day out for him, gaining experience by osmosis from a bunch of donkeys that weren’t fit to trade on Brighton beach).

Summary

Post-match Robbie admitted, ‘I was expecting more from my team in terms of urgency and movement. I was looking for a better performance than the one we gave today. We were too stretched, never aggressive enough and didn’t get the ball back quickly enough when we lost it. With the ball, there wasn’t enough movement and there were a lot of things we didn’t do. We have to be a bit more focused and sharper.’

For Robbie’s sake I hope Roman was on his yacht well out of range from Chelsea TV. Robbie has got this job on the basis we keep winning but play more expansive football. I know it’s still pre-season but if Roman was subjected to this display his index finger would already be twitching and moving towards the red eject button.

Maybe our reduced performance was due to the Olympics? I mean everything else seems to have been affected by them!

In case you’re wondering I failed my French O-Level with a grade 9 so I guess it is important to be in shape as the real event approaches.

Footnote

Great Britain football team crashed out of the Olympics last night losing 5-4 to South Korea on penalties. At 4-4 Daniel Sturridge stepped up to take the crucial penalty. If you were sitting in Alan Sugar’s boardroom and he shouted at you “You’ve got five seconds to succinctly summarise Daniel Sturridge otherwise YOU’RE FIRED” just show him the video. Sturridge strode forward, then stalled to make a pathetic dummy and then completed his run to gently strike the ball near the keeper to make an easy save. This typifies Sturridge‘s performances for us as he nears the penalty area and all he has to do is lay on a simple pass but instead has to over complicate it with a stupid trick. Why can’t we loan him, instead of Kevin the Brown, to some middle ranking team in the Bundesliga?

Photos

Brighton, the best bits.




There are 53 comments

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  1. Captain Flume

    Long time reader, first time commentator – always felt a bit overawed by the tactical (and literary) nous on display here so tried to keep my nose out! Was at the game and we played incredibly poorly; we had a good spell for maybe 15 minutes before we scored, and after that we looked abysmal. We continually passed to the edge of the box and then would tap it back and forth along the line, hoping someone would have balls enough to shoot – it’s not pretty or fluid, and it just means we get crowded out by the same tactics we used against Barca. Take nothing away from Brighton, they looked far more up for it, and could well be a Premier League team next season if they keep up this level of performance.

  2. Ryan

    I’m witholding judgement until the start of the season proper. I’m quite happy to lose games pre-season if they’re highlighting who really shouldn’t be involved and focusing the decent players minds on what needs to be done. Winning games in pre-season doesn’t tend to count for much so hopefully getting beaten has proved to be a good workout. Mata coming back and Oscar coming in should help with the midfield creativity. Rami needs to go alongside Mikel in the pivot to provide some dynamism. I’ll be interested to see how we shape up against City next week.

    • mark_25

      Yes I agree, pre-season results count for nothing.  But I’d feel better if I’d seen a few good moves or a glimmer of some system that will enable us to score.  It would be fine if we’d played well for 70 minutes then run out of steam because we’re not fit yet but we were rubbish throughout.

      • Ryan

        Yeah definitely. But I’ve got a full season of stress and worry to look forward to and no particular desire to get it underway any sooner than is absolutely necessary. If we get destroyed by City next week then I’ll go into panic-mode. Next weekend needs to lay down a marker for the rest of the season.

  3. Cunningplan

    If I recall our pre-season under AVB last year was impressive, undefeated and only conceded the one goal, didn”t do us much good in the grand scale of things for the league.

    I’m not too concerned until we kick a ball, and a few players in anger.

  4. Blue_MikeL

    Hard to make any predictions, but I agree losing to a beach boys club isn’t a pleasant thing 🙁 

  5. Roy59wills

    brighton fan here chelsea was supposed to be a test for us to see how far we have come. gus played with no out and out striker which confussed terry and cahill. ashely cole in my opinnion the best left back in england for a very long time could not handal buckley for pace.vicente run midfield by drifting around the pitch.torres played to far back from our back four to cause us real problems thought his dummy and awareness of lampard was true class.but you were out played and fought for an hour. brighton play premiership football under gus dont always work out in the championship. some just kick the crap out of us so we cant pass it.dont under estimate us we play the right way home or away. gus quote. you will be challanging this season on all fronts  .good signings for you this season and a manger that will play to win at any cost.

  6. Der_Kaiser

    A very pleasant day out on the south coast which was only marred by a fairly grim game of football.

    No getting away from it with the standard ‘it’s just pre-season’ caveat; we were very poor indeed and there was precious little by way of positives to take from the game.  Slow, lacking in any kind of urgency or creativity and most of the (Chelsea) players on the pitch simply looked out of sorts. I thought Hazard was far better in the centre than he was out wide and was actually one of the better players on the day, along with Lukaku.  But we really need a striker; no doubt the Torres question will be debated furiously here and elsewhere over the course of the season, but he still doesn’t inspire any kind of confidence for me.  Clock is ticking, and very loudly indeed now.

    All credit to Brighton – they were a decent side and took their goals well (the new stadium is really impressive too).

    Hopefully the doubters amongst us (include myself in that) will be proven wrong by a roaring start to the season, but on the evidence available in terms of pre-season, there is still plenty of work for Robbie and the team to do over the next couple of weeks.

    A note on Sturridge; silly with the penalty (doing the Bastian…), but he’s looked confident and impressive for TeamGB; very different circumstances – zero expectations for a start, but given he was diagnosed with meningitis a few weeks ago, all credit to him for taking part.  Compare his attitude to Gareth ‘I’m injured’ Bale – ’nuff said.

    And finally – hugely impressed with our Olympic athletes and their exploits over the last week or so, especially on Saturday, but why do so many hacks, commentators and other assorted know-nothings (rugby players amongst them) have to churn out the tired old “they’ve shown those overpaid prima-donna footballers a thing or two about commitment and blahblahblah…” line?

    I’m about as far from being a class warrior as you can get, but there seem to be an hell of a lot of bitter middle class types who are awfully pissed off at those working class ruffian football types for daring to exploit their commercial potential.

    Rant / moan over.

    • Cunningplan

      Totally agree with regard the tired comments from all and sundry about footballers etc etc.
      Not really paid much attention to footy during the summer, I only watched a game and a half of our summer tour whilst doing my US tour.
      And yes full credit to all our sporstmen and women, bloody superb performances especially in the rowing and cycling, and not forgetting that freak (and I mean that in a good way) that is Mr Usain Bolt, well done sir!

  7. bluebayou

    Spot on Mark, particularly in regard to A Flock of Seagulls. 

    As the photo demonstrates it always does well to remind the bloggeratti, just as the season is about to get underway, that the eponymous football club is not the only source of embarrassment to emerge from Liverpool. And the less said about one of their ageing denizens walking off with the Cliff Pilchard Trophy for Embarrassing Singing at a Sporting Event, the better.

    I’m in two minds about this pre-season. The players are returning in dribs and drabs (no that isn’t cockenese for arriving in a taxi) some from a long summer off and others less so.

    Yes, the results don’t matter but you do wonder about some of the comedy defending and the lack of incisiveness.

    Despite the comings and goings I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team looking rather the same as the one that finished last season. It’s going to be tough for the management to really break away from what brought success.

    Another “interesting” season beckons.

    And if the BBC fanboy, “they’re all so hardworking, there’s a story behind every tear, we love them ’cause they’re all our bezzy mates and such lovely boys and girls who all speak English unlike those arrogant, cheating, doped up, lap dogs of Satan foreigners that we have to allow in these games just so we can give them a hiding” type cheerleading is anything to go by, don’t be planning on watching SPOTY with any sense of expectation. They’ll be steering it and team of the year looks a distant prospect now.

    Not that I give two shits but people will get upset.

    And yes, the constant quoting of “weekly wages”, trivialisation of the average top class footballer’s abilities, general assumption that they do very little training, along with a refusal to interview their parents before and after every game (unlike people who’ve given birth to rowers) is all part of this country’s distate for working class people who don’t stay where they’re supposed to, allied to the elite’s sense of entitlement that they should have access to the excessive wealth sloshing around the game, in the same way that they accessed most of the available wealth this nation once accumulated and fucked it all off to the Cayman Islands.

    And no, the existence of Alan Sugar and Harry Redknapp does not make those naysayers right. They’re just statistical outliers or whatever that posh maths type stuff is.

  8. Blueboydave

    Have to say I’m firmly with those saying ignore pre-season, it tells you nothing. 

    Can it only be 4 years since we were undefeated and scored goals for fun against everyone in all our pre-season games under Big Phil  and even Franco di Santo looked like he might be a decent striker?

    BB – I haven’t bothered to watch SPOTY [ I won’t embarrass myself by admitting how long it took me to work out that acronym] for years, but I reckon the New York Giants have more chance of winning Team of the Year than we do, given that Superbowl is one of the few sports the Beeb can show without that embarrassing “Pictures courtesy of Sky/ITV/Uncle Tom Cobbley” caption.

    Oh, and I’m sure ‘Onest ‘Arry would protest that he’s never outlied statistically, or in any other way 😉

      • Blue_MikeL

        Chelsea considers the football world domination by buying players then loaning them and contractually stopping them from playing against Chelsea?! 

  9. Der_Kaiser

    A mate of mine noted that while watching the underwhelming display at Brighton, among the many things that came to mind one of them wasn’t “We could do with Victor Moses right now…”

    • mark_25

      I was thinking the same after the match. I walked along the pier instead but it was almost as impressive.

  10. Cunningplan

    Ah! signs of life as the new season draws near.

    Now…. I don’t want to see panic or shreiking like girls should we lose on Sunday, otherwise you’ll be rounded up, and marched to Headmaster Glovers caning room for six of the best.

    We also need an assembly call to see what bloggers are back, and for those who are tardy and absent, they will require a note from their parents.

  11. limetreebower

    First Studge sinks Team GB, then Oscar single-handedly (ok, single-headedly) loses Olympic gold. It’s looking good for the usual season of gut-wrenching torment.

    The Olympics beat football all ends up. The Olympics beat football by ippon. The Olympics are indescribably awesome. But it’s not a fair comparison, of course. No doubt if the Olympic athletes were gorged on perpetual media over-exposure and fattened with the kind of money we season-ticket-buyers and Sky-subscribers pour into football, we’d tire of them just as quickly.

    For now, though, I can’t get it up for the footy season at all. Here in London it’s been the most fabulous couple of weeks. Too many unforgettable instants to cite, but in some ways my favourite of all was a free one: going down the road and standing on Putney Bridge to watch the end of the women’s road race, and seeing Vos, Armistead and Zabelinskaya hurtling past a few feet away, throwing themselves towards the finish after hours in the saddle, the rain coming down, everyone roaring on all three of them, and the utter ferocious determination and concentration on their faces as they flashed by …

    • Ryan

      Disagree about Oscar. Menezes got his team selection wrong yesterday and lost control of the midfield/possession. Rafael was at fault for both goals. Neymar, Damiao, Silva and a few others didn’t perform particularly well. Fair enough Oscar should’ve taken it to extra-time with that header but to say he was solely to blame is a bit harsh. Mexico thoroughly deserved their gold-medal.

      Agree about the Olympics though. Watching Mo Farah (even though he’s a Gooner!) last night was absolutely amazing. Too many other great moments to list.

    • John D

      Although the Olympics have been very enjoyable, and great in parts (my favourite events were Mo Farah’s double golds), plus I’ve been to Hyde Park Olympic festival 3 times (went with the family to McFly, and my daughter dragged along me to see Joe McElderry) – nothing came anywhere near the high and weeks of afterglow of us winning the Champions League Final.

      PS Has Malouda left yet???

    • Cunningplan

      I certainly don’t think that way Dylbo, we’ve played in lots of Shield games over the past few years, and they’ve told us very little. I think City agaisnt Utd last year was huge for City, and even though they lost, we all know how the season finished.
      Of course I want us to win today, but I certainly won’t be pressing any large red buttons if we don’t.

  12. Benjami

    Interesting game.

    Slightly concerned about our defense, it looks a bit of a mess at the moment. Man City were really getting in behind A Cole, could be a potential problem later in the season.

    Mikel had a shocker today, and him and Lamps have to be excellent in providing cover for our defense this season.

    Our objectives must be to put together a run of games where we do not concede at all. We need to rebuild that strong defensive reputation.

    Losing the midfield battle. OK it was expected as we were outnumbered there and we won’t come up against a team playing 5 (could argue 6) in the midfield. Still for this system to work we need to get the ball on the ground in the middle of the park not in defense and start passing it around.

    Again another indicator of how much work Lamps and Mikel have to do this season, what I would do for a fit Essien.

    Oscar looks amazing and the perfect player to dominate the center of the pitch for us. I watched every game Brazil played and his work rate, vision and awareness defensively and offensively was class. Really hope we build the team around him and play him in the first team from that start.

  13. mark_25

    On the train from Brm on another wasted journey. Not that I really mind because I’m a bit child like when it comes to travelling by train and Moor Street is a particularly fine station restored to its Victorian splendour.

    I’m willing to join the naivety club this week and pretend results and performances don’t matter.The priorities for the final week of pre season are

    1. Mikel to visit an optician to test for colour blindness, specifically blue

    2. Luiz to visit a brain surgeon on a mission of discovery

    3. Hazard to provide Tom Daley with advice on how to dive with style

  14. Blue_MikeL

    One thing that sort of worries me is that we have got 5 yellows and 1 red in actually friendly game. WTF is that?

  15. WorkingClassPost

    Tethered to my mobile which is balanced precariously on a window frame trying to maintain a signal here in a rather remote part of dampest Devonshire.

    Not too concerned about the pre-season results, it’s all about fitness and preparation, but our naivety when down to ten wasn’t impressive, it’s never wise to give the ball away, but even less so when a man light, and what’s going on with Ivan?

    He was getting increasingly reckless last season, and the summer break seems to have made no difference to that trend.

    Other than that, the general shape and confidence of the team looks fine.

    But discipline and control may be crucial factors this term, because we must expect to be in for some tough games, as all our opponents will want to do well against the European Champions.

    • Cunningplan

      Don’t go knocking us folk in the South West, with veiled digs at the lack of mobile phone signals.
      I’ll have you know we have all mod cons down here, electricity, mains water, and the internet. We’ve even updated our pigeon post, to the better, faster more skillful Spanish ones.

      • WorkingClassPost

        I must say that the facilities here are better than anticipated, but there does seem to be some sort of crime wave at the moment which is severely depleting the local police force because I haven’t seen a constable for day’s.

    • JONTY 1

      Not sure what you mean by “the general shape and confidence of the team seem fine”.We lost all of our pre season games bar the first one and were well beaten by Brighton a championship team who were in turn outplayed by Swindon last night.I know it is pre season and RDM is trying out various optons but nothing I have seen so far (and I have seen all the re -runs on Chelsea TV-sad I know) gives me any confidence in your assertion that the shape and confidence of the team seems fine.Indeed I would say that the reverse is more accurate.All the old problems remain from last season’s league campaign ie poor decison making in defence (viz Branners  and Luiz on sunday) slow transition from midfield to atttack(Mikel and Lampard are totallyunsuited to play together as a so-called midfield “pivot”)and lack of goal scoring opportunties created.

  16. JONTY 1

    Whoops made an error .The Blues drew one of the USA tour games -against Paris St Germain if I recall..

    • WorkingClassPost

      I was being specific to the Charity Shield where we were much improved. Agreed that there were plenty of things still need working on, but that’s what I’m hoping to see as the season progresses.

  17. Der_Kaiser

    Somewhere on an allotment at an undisclosed location, a small group of gentlemen gather around a shed with wry smiles upon their face.  One has a crystal ball, another an impressive organ.  The third remembers that one of their number is locked in a dark cupboard with a former England striker and returns to coax him back into the light.

    • Cunningplan

      What!!! is the new season starting? could have given us a bit more warning JD
      Would also like to know with regard the locked dark cupboard and Mr Glover, is there room for Mr Assange in there?

    • WorkingClassPost

      As one who has just navigated the A303 and various other obstacles in order to report for start of the season muster, I do hope that our esteemed Podders have all returned in time for training.

       ‘Couldn’t find the cupboard key’ might not be a good enough excuse, and could result in a fine.

      My physio says I’m in pretty good shape and advises a gentle warm-up with a few beers in front of MOTD, before attempting a full 90 mins tomorrow.

  18. Cunningplan

    One has to ask the question, is this blog dying a slow death? Our first competitive game which we win fairly comfortably, and no comments. Has twitter taken over the internet universe for comments, or is the just a general malaise towards football?

    I thought we looked quite decent today, and Hazard seems like a good a buy. Yes we’re still prone to the usual errors late in the game that cost us last season, but not bad for our first match and a solid three points in the bag.

    • Nick

      Apologies for the slow start to the blog season, Clive. Thought we were going to have a new contributor to the blog but he has just let me know he doesn’t have time to write a review of yesterday’s game. Will post the usual match reports etc in a bit.

      • Cunningplan

        No need to apologise, Nick. I just thought there would have been a bit more activity after the first game, although there is signs of life with Ryan and Benjami posting.

        One more observation from yesterdays game which I hope is down to rustiness, was Cech and some of his distribution which put our defenders in difficult situations.

        • Ryan

          Cech’s distribution has been routinely poor since we began trying to play out from the back. It just isn’t his game. He isn’t a good/accurate kicker of the ball and his reading of the game (offensively) isn’t good. His roll out to JT (who pretty clearly wasn’t ready to receive and turned his back) was a pretty good example. His decision making under pressure, with the ball at his feet isn’t in line with that of a world-class keeper (which he is in most aspects). Opposing teams know that now and are quick to press him in the right situation as they realise they can turn over possession cheaply without expending too much energy.

      • Ryan

        I thought CP was referring to the lack of comments around recently rather than any lateness with the match report. Good to get back into the swing of the PL though.

  19. Ryan

    In the areas we have bought players we’ve improved. In the areas we haven’t, we haven’t.

    Our 4-2-3-1 works ok at times but, without going back to my regular gripe from last season, we seem extremely adept at making every team we play against look great at retaining possession. Mikel is the same old Mikel and the same goes for Frank. Whether it’s the system or their ability that is at fault I’m not sure but they’re singularly unable to boss the midfield, against any opposition. The only way we are able to play out from the back is if Mata or Hazard (Oscar too, when he came on) drops deep to get the ball. Frank/Mikel not able to do this effectively. When either one does drop deep to receive the ball they invariably just give it back to Terry or Luiz. Not sure if this influences Cech’s decision making everytime he punts the ball out for a throw-in or straight to opposition central defence.

    I’m not surprised about the new rumblings regarding our (supposedly) renewed interest in Modric. I’d like to see a Witsel/Fellaini type player come in too. Still need cover at RB and I’d still like to see Lewandowski come in to back Torres up at CF. Not sure if we need Moses. Still got Ramires, Oscar and Marin to fit into that attacking three along with Bertrand (apparently) and all the others. We need to add some balance to the squad in these last few weeks of the window.

    We were ok today. But the pivot (Mikel/Lampard) concerns me. They’re quite good at filling spaces (Barca/Bayern) but lack dynamism and the ability to control possession. That will limit our progress, especially if we still have any pretensions about playing beautiful football (which personally doesn’t bother me) but essentially we look too much like England at the European Championships for comfort.

    • Benjami

       I completely agree with you Ryan. Made the same point earlier in the thread with reference to the Man City game and how badly we lost the midfield battle then. At least in that game we had the excuse of being against the best team in England who were playing 5 in midfield. Today we were playing against a very poor side who we should have dominated.

      I just don’t see Mikel working alongside Lamps in that role either and the evidence is starting to mount that it doesn’t work.

      Mikel is good in a 4-3-3 as the holding DM shielding the back 4, but he gets in a mess in a 4-2-3-1 and can’t quite work out his role. As you say his lack of dynamism leaves him a step behind the game which will prove costly to us vs better opponents.

      How many  of us would swap Lamps/Mikel for a fit Essien and Ballack? They would have smashed that Wigan team today.

      I feel we should switch to a 4-3-3, with Mikel at the back and Lamps/Oscar in front. Until we sign a DM to play Mikel’s role 4-2-3-1 won’t work.

      Also well done to Hazard for that first 10mins, looked like he was the difference between what would have been 0-0 last season and us getting a good 3 points.

      • Ryan

        Yeah part of my point is that we seem to play much the same whether against City or Wigan or Barca or Benfica. I don’t necessarily think Lamps or Mikel played badly today, far from it but neither is really a snappy, dynamic ball winner and when you consider that the attacking line of 3 in midfield (Mata, Hazard, Oscar, Bertrand etc) aren’t CM’s (in the sense that they can’t really defend/tackle effectively in the middle of the pitch) it’s not really surprising that we struggle to turn over possession and Lamps and Mikel just sit off and shield the back four. I’d be interested to see if we have a go at playing 4-3-3 as you suggest. With Ramires providing the legs in midfield, Mikel holding and maybe Oscar or Lamps dictating the tempo of the game. Mata and Hazard either side of Torres. I assume that di Matteo avoids that formation as it left us very exposed (particularly In the full-back areas) under AVB. The system relies on the two wide players dropping in to make a 5-man midfield when the ball is turned over but Mata and Studge (circa. AVB) were pretty poor at that. AVB’s inability/unwillingness to accept that led to his training ground row with Ashley Cole. It also caused a lot of the other players to question his tactical awareness. So I can understand his reluctance. There probably isn’t an ideal solution to this problem except to get in at least one genuinely world-class CM, whether it’s a Modric-type regista or a Fellaini/Yaya style big dominant presence capable of attacking and defending equally well.

        Basically if we had a Patrick Viera bossing the midfield a lot of our problems would disappear (we’d still need another RB and a striker but that’s a different story).

  20. Ryan

    Just watching PSG draw with some fuckers I’ve never heard of. The money those radges have spent and it’s like watching two Championship teams playing at Selhurst Park! Shocking.


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