Some brief thoughts on the Boxing Day action:
Fernando Torres is working hard – winning freekicks, making tackles, playing passes – but surely he was bought for his goal threat rather than his link up play?
Juan Mata is shouldering Chelsea’s creative burden, but surely he’s more of a Ljungberg than a Modric or a Silva? He is currently tasked with providing Chelsea with the service from the centre that ideally he’d like to be receiving in the channels. Note how his passing around the edge of the area is frequently very short, often backwards and rarely successful at playing into the area. It’s a square peg in a round hole, but he’s the best Chelsea have in this role until they renew their quest for Modric or a similar playmaker.
No such problems in Fulham’s midfield though, with a typically great performance from Murphy, bettered by Dembele.
Another top 5 team struggling to create were Manchester City. For such a supposedly free-flowing team, it was odd that Samir Nasri seemed to be restricted to left or right wing play only, never really coming into the middle to play more intricate football with Silva or Aguero.
Meanwhile Charlie Adam continues to shoot from ridiculous distances, which Kenny Dalglish appears to tolerate for some reason. His shots are the thicker arrows; I had to show them like this because the shot chalkboard (justly) assumes you are at least within sight of goal before taking a shot, so Adam’s shots were off screen…
Just ahead of him, Andy Carroll is warming for an extended run in the Liverpool team. It’s clear by the aerial challenges (upside down Vs) that he’s very adept at the “long ball target man” role, but is that what Liverpool need, particularly against a team like Blackburn?
It certainly suggests Liverpool will struggle to replace Suarez’s link up play between the lines and threat in the six yard box:
Finally, after all this talk of midfielders it was rather scary to see that three of the top four players for *attacking* third passes in the Bolton v Newcastle game were in the Bolton back five – and I thought Owen Coyle was brought in to get Bolton playing sexy football…
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