After seeing what we can do in the Tottenham game the performance on Saturday was utterly disappointing. I struggle to find the reason for the transition from a technically highly skilled team able to play good passing football and to produce sharp turnovers to a team that made more technical errors than a North Korean nuclear scientist.
One of my favourite theories on how this is possible is the lack of mid field movement. When the central midfielders get possession there are very few players open.
Faubert, as most of the team, started the game with some decent plays. He offered the midfielders the overlap option and looked good although his deliveries into the box were almost as lacking as they were a year ago. Defensively though he looks much better. Collison… I’m not quite sure how to rate him. He does some good stuff, but looses the ball too easily, as did quite a few West Ham players (Spector, Noble, Parker, Stanislas and even Cole). That, of course can be a secondary effect of not finding a decent passing opportunity.
When the midfield passing is not working we revert to the long ball to Cole. He did brilliantly the first half an hour and held on to balls that everyone but Carlton himself must be certain was already lost. But he lost the magic. I can’t say I blame him, the balls aimed at him were not exactly of highest quality. But the fact that the Blackburn defence knows of our one option gives them a fairly easy job – if handling Cole can ever be called easy. Three defenders that more or less can concentrate on him is too much even for Cole most of the time. The one trick the West Ham pony had at its disposal was found out – anyone even slightly awake at the game could spot that.
Jimenez looked to be the only player comfortable on the ball at this pace. His technique is brilliant also under pressure. For some reason he still does not offer a good alternative to Cole. I have a feeling that he did not get the others involved in the attack as much as against Tottenham. He looked a bit puzzled and lonely when the Blackburn defence had cut of Cole as a viable passing option.
This is the first game when I am not impressed by Stanislas. Maybe I expect too much too soon (as a matter of fact I’m sure I do), but he did not look his charging self in this game. In previous games he tried to create something almost every time he got the ball. On Saturday he looked pale and played a lot of safety balls back to Spector or Upson. It gave me the impression that the Gaffer had talked to him about the importance of being patient… In previous games he has been something of a “loose cannon” in the best sense of the expression (if there is a good sense… ah, you know what I mean!). Cut him loose again!
One thing one has got to ask oneself – is Daprela rubbish? If not, I demand that he is given a go! Zola is a good man manager and has been very successful in transforming people doubting their talent into PL players. He does not want to pull the carpet from under anybody and certainly does not want to throw anybody in at the deep end. This thinking has handed more opportunities to some players than is normally reasonable. The one that has been given more “playing time per skill quota” (can you tell I’m also into science…?) than anybody else is Jonathan Spector. He has another bad game and this influences the entire defense. He also fails to be the platform from which Stanislas can be launched. Ilunga is by his absence proving his importance. His cool is desperately missed!
And to finish my sermon I will dare to address a very touchy subject – is Noble good enough? Prince H has mentioned it earlier – he is a bit slow and the game seem to halt a bit when he gets the ball. He is also not a consistent midfield dynamo and does not create plays on a regular basis. He sometimes shows us what he can do but I don’t think it’s often enough. He is still a young player and it would be terrible if he was not given the opportunity to bloom, but I have waited for him to turn into the central midfielder we have been missing for quite some time, and to be honest I don’t see a promising trend. With a second striker on the pitch and Jimenez in a more playmaking role and Behrami back in decent form – where do we play Noble?
Can we blame all this negative stuff on the 120 minutes of battle of last tuesday?