Finding the Balance
My neighbour periodically comes up with a new design for remodeling his house, the trouble is he always tries to fit more in than the space can take.
I get the impression some of the discussions on our team follow a similar thought process. You can only have eleven players on the pitch, five of them are usually defenders. So this leaves six to be spread between the front, wings and central midfield.
Strengthen one area you must weaken another, for every player you bring in one must come out. People talk about 'adding' to the team, really it would often be more accurate to talk about 'substituting', you hope what you add is more than what you take away.
So far this season we have played with a set up based on power and numbers in midfield and pace down the wings with a lone front man. It worked (just) against Crystal Palace and Swansea and it failed (again just) against Arsenal. I don't count the europa games as the opposition was so much weaker.
So far we've played 3, won 2, lost 1, scored 2 and conceded 1, we haven't scored or conceded many. The strength of the system is possession, against Arsenal we apparently had more of the ball than they did. But I've long argued possession is over rated, we've beaten Arsenal in the past with 33% possession, this time we lost with more than 50%.
The trouble is its not how long you have the ball but what you do with it. With the system we've been playing we're not doing much, Soldado is finding himself isolated and trying to feed off scraps. I was disappointed at the Emirates that, once it was apparent the system wasn't working, AVB didn't put on Holtby early instead of Dembele, sacrifice some of the power for more energy and creativity.
It does seem to me its time for a rethink in terms of the shape of the team, the balance is wrong. We've now got all our players in, we're going to have to effectively play two teams if we want to compete in the league and travel all over the globe in the europa league. We actually have the players to do that, in fact it gives players game time, its a case of mixing the pace, power and creativity in each team so that we can protect the defence and support the attack at the same time.
The international break may actually do us a favour as it gives AVB a chance to think through what he does with the resources he now has. Lets hope we start seeing better balanced sides in future games.
Written by jod