Casual Casualty

You cannot keep him out of the headlines can you?

With a mighty crash and a heafty fall, Andros Townsend is now making the news for different reasons – this time almost knocking out a Daily Mail photographer and himself in the process. That both came away with just minor cuts, bruises and bandages galore was in itself a minor miracle.

The photographer has compared the drop over the top of advertising hoardings as being akin to Beechers Brook at Aintree Racecourse and, with it full of cameras and other equipment, we were all fearing the worst when Andros did not reappear immediately. That he appeared at all and then dashed back onto the pitch says an awful lot about this young man, his temperament and his love of the team – the standing ovation he was afforded was well deserved.

But he was not the only casualty of yesterday´s encounter.

The biggest casualty was our composure and with that went our passing – both of which were missing for large parts of the match.

We chased Hull down, we pressed them in all the right places, we showed energy and drive, we won back possession and then, instead of calming finding a colleague with any easy pass, we simply and casually placed it at an opponent´s feet – who gleefully accepted possession back again. And casual is the correct word as we were simply too casual in our play, there was no precision, no urgency.

Although we still had more possession we did virtually nothing with it. With two fast wide men ready, willing and able to take on their defence we chose instead to try and drive the ball through an incredibly packed middle of the pitch. With the wide men starved of the ball, nothing reached their penalty area, our lone striker had no service and with no service he cannot score.

It really is as simple as that. Soldado has been criticised for not scoring enough goals but he needs the ball in the right places – and not just on the penalty spot. When Defoe came on, he barely touched the ball – let alone have a shot on goal. These players need service and they did not get it.

What is at fault? Is it the players? Or is it the system?

Having to play a high line and press the ball is all well and good as we get possession back quickly and deny the opposition time on the ball but this condenses play into just two thirds of the pitch meaning our flair players have no room in which to manoeuvre, no time to think and to pick the right ball to the right player.

With teams like WetSpam and Hull packing their defence with ranks of four and five players this lack of space is made even worse and we find it extremely difficult to break them down. This is not the first time this season this has happened – it will not be the last – we need a Plan B.

The goal when it came was somewhat fortunate. It was hand ball, the arm was raised but with barely three yards between the player and the ball when it was struck, it was ball to hand and we have seen them turned down all too frequently. That we have a cool finisher able to control his nerve and despatch the penalty kick is all the more gratifying as that striker has now earned us nine points with three spot kicks so far this season.

There were some calling for Benteke to be purchased, but even he misses penalties, so for the moment at least give me Robert Soldado.

And so it is on to part two of our week of matches against Hull. Will Steve Bruce put out exactly the same team – basically he has no other first team players available to him – or will he play a whole host of teenagers?

And what will AVB do? He can easily switch the entire strike force from what he started with on Sunday to a totally different five of Dembele, Lamela, Eriksen, Siggy (or Chadli) and Defoe whilst keeping the majority of the defence as it was. Of course if Kaboul, Rose and Capoue are fit they will feature but that seems unlikely.

Game is on Wednesday, but as at the time of writing, it is not on any of the TV stations that we can show. Watch this space for further information.

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