I have noticed that Daryl Janmaat has come out in the local press singing the praises of our defensive unit. For the record, here is what he has been saying.
“It’s important to be strong defensively, because if you defend well and have good attackers, you’ll always have a good chance of winning any game.
“We’re very strong defensively and that’s good, because a strong defence has to be the starting point for any successful team.
“We’re keeping down the number of chances our opponents are creating, and we’re very satisfied with that side of our game.”
It is hard to argue with what he has to say but I think there is more too it than that. I am sure that over the years, all of us have sat on the edge of our seats waiting anxiously for the final whistle to blow as the opposition team piles pressure on us as we try and hold on to a slender one goal advantage. It seemed to be a weekly occurrence and to be honest I was kind of getting used to the feeling as we have made an art form out of failing to close out games.
However the past four or five games I have noticed that we have looked a lot more assured in the closing minutes of games and my nerves are all the better for it. Sure we have defended well . Janmaat & Dummet have been particularly impressive and even Taylor has won a few fans over with some solid efforts. But I think a large portion of the transformation is due to something else all together.
A forward line with pace and a forward line that offers a genuine threat on the counter!
Perez, Ameobi, Sissoko and Cabella, four players that are more than capable of quickly turning defence into attack . When a team carries this threat, opposition teams are less likely to push too high up the park and commit players forward. You can’t help but notice that teams are not flooding forward as much as they push for a goal. Take Liverpool for example, they sat back and the moment they did commit more players forward late in the game, we caught them on the counter and were unlucky not to go two up. Although it was disappointing not to score from that break, the most important thing is the doubt it creates for opposition defenders. For years we have watched left backs and right backs bomb forward with out fear or reprisal. so it is nice to see us dish it out in turn. Our central midfield has also shielded the back men well and Colback and Sissoko are both tidy passers of the ball which helps relive pressure via keeping possession. So the combination of players and styles is working at the moment and Pardew has the mix right. He may have stumbled upon it by forced injuries and no other options but that matters not, the results are what matters in the long run.
Now I am not the biggest fan of a game plan that relies on counter attacking as it’s main avenue to goal but if it is done well, it is hard to argue with the results. So if we keep up the work rate and keep winning games, I am all for a bit of counter attacking football.
What are your thoughts?