Although this new Premier League season is still in its infancy, there has been much debate around our recent poor form! Although our point tally is only 3 less than at same stage last season, our performances have been less than flattering.
I recall sitting in front of the idiot box watching the Reading game and thinking to myself that this would have to be the worst football our boys have played in the last couple of seasons!
I guess that 90 minutes of torturous football has lead to me penning this piece in a vain hope of actually working out what is going on, or not going on for that matter. I have offered my opinion many times on why I think we are struggling on the park; these debates have ranged from the lack of transfers to the lack of effort being applied. I am happy for those subjects to be debated again but for the moment I would like to look at the players fronting up each week and how they are comparing to last season. For the sake of this exercise I will look at how each performed over a length of time and not just individual games. I believe this will give a more balanced view over the subject.
Tim Krul was injured during international duty and has been replaced by Rob Elliot for our Europa group matches and Steve Harper for our Premier League games. I have to say that both Steve and Rob have done a fantastic job between the posts and I have heard little criticism of their performances in Krul’s absence. So the impacts to our performances have been minimal to say the least.
With two of our starting back men in the forms of Simpson and Coloccini currently gracing the treatment table it has been a mix and match affair when it comes to our defending. Steven Taylor has performed well and so has the much maligned Williamson. But the ideal combination of Coloccini and Taylor has not had a chance to show it wares due to Coloccini’s injury concerns. I can safely say that this would be most fans choice of as a starting pair. Simpson has been a miss at right back; we have had a number of players fill the breach to varying degrees of success. Anita, Perch and Tavernier have all had a go but none have put their hand up to call the position their own in my opinion. Santon has been a walk up starter at left back and he is developing well. Out of the back four, I would say that he is the only one that has shown improvement over his performances last season. We are also missing Ryan Taylor who filled in admirably at full back last season but sadly we will not see him play again this season due to injury. So to summarise, I would say that our defensive line up without Coloccini and Simpson in the ranks is much weaker than last season and the negative impact to our performances is more than noticeable.
Yohan Cabaye was one of our better performers last season and he really helped push the team with his fantastic work rate and his good understanding with Tiote in the centre of the park. Sadly he has been well under his best thus far and is struggling to insert himself into the games he has played. He has looked tired and although he is still working hard we are not seeing the fruits of his labour.
Tiote has been injured for the most part but we have seen his return against Reading. We all know what a monster he can be when fit and in form but we have yet to see
this due to his aforementioned injuries. Jonas has worked hard as per usual and to me he has been on par with last seasons performances. Benny has been a stand out in our midfield, he has really shone this season and he gives us something different from the combative players he has around him. He is the only one from our midfield that I would say has raised the bar over their last season performances. Perch has filled in well in DM and Anita looks like he will need some time to settle in. So I would say that due to Cabaye being off the pace and Tiote battling injury our midfield has been negatively impacted as a result.
Ba has played very well and to me he has shown that his early goal scoring form last year was no fluke. He has very much been one of our better players and it is nice to see him scoring again. His striking partner Cisse has lost all form but his impact late last season with an array of fantastic goals was always going to hard to replicate. He seems incapable of hitting the back of the net at the moment but I believe he is not far away from scoring again. Shola has filled in well and has put in some good substitute, cup and Europa performances. So I would say our strikers are slightly below where were at last season, due to Cisse not firing on all cylinders.
So in conclusion; Goal keeping aside we are underperforming right across the park. We have some players raising the bar but it is far out weighed by those that are not delivery as we know they can. This is due in part to injuries but these sub par performances could be the reason we are struggling to put teams away? Or you may have some theories of your own?
What do you think?
Many thanks for Aussie Magpie for sending this in for us to discuss, great read mate!