Mistakes cost us in our 3-1 defeat at Chelsea on Saturday, and Match of the Day pundit Ian Wright has not held back in his outspoken rant at a few NUFC players this weekend, critiquing Merino, Ritchie and Mbemba’s ‘ridiculous’ pieces of defending.
As Rafa alluded to, we made three big mistakes in the game and were punished for all of them, with the gaffer emphasising the fact that ‘this is the Premier League’.
It’s ruthless, and recent weeks have proved that, however us shooting ourselves in the foot have made our slump all the more frustrating at times.
Here’s what Wright had to say on Match of the Day about Merino, Ritchie and Mbemba, explaining how each made some fatal errors in the build up to each one of Chelsea’s goals on Saturday:
“You look at Merino for the first goal – that is Hazard next to you. He knows how good he is so he’s got to closer to him; he’s got to see that out. You look at where Merino ends up – he’s got to go in there (the penalty area) with him. He could at l east be closer to him.
“Same here with Ritchie (for the second). Look at how much time and space he’s got. Someone has got to tell him he’s got time. He could take that ball down on his chest and lay it to the keeper. Instead, he panics.
“And then, Mbemba, as a centre-half, to go down (so easy) I don’t know what he’s expecting there but that is pitiful to me. That is ridiculous defending. Is he expecting a foul from that? Just head it!
“And then for the penalty, Ritchie has just got to stay on his feet. He’s got a team-mate there so he doesn’t need to dive in.
“That’s three goals for me which all could have easily been avoided.”
Hard to disagree with him.
Merino’s I didn’t pick up on. He’s a huge talent and often puts in 110%, but not following his man was something he was found guilty of for Aaron Mooy’s match-winner in the 1-0 defeat at Huddersfield. One to watch.
Ritchie’s two errors for their second and third were criminal, whilst Mbemba’s weak piece of play to allow Morata to head in was highly dubious. It may have been a foul, but it was far too weak from him. He has to be much stronger there.
A real shame to see us shoot ourselves in the foot on Saturday after such a promising start.
We’ll have to start learning from these mistakes sooner rather than later however, with two big home games to come and real defensive improvement needed to stop the rot at St James’.