My first thoughts in relation to a Scotty Parker’s suggestion that we are destined for a mid-table finish in the current Premier League season is that perhaps Slav has sown that he is ‘human’, after all.
Our starting line-up against Spurs was clearly not right (no further arguments needed) –
Carroll should not have started!
Our best striker is Diafra Sakho, and in the absence of Valencia, Zarate is my second choice centre-forward.
I believe that in order to maximise our scoring potential (present squad in mind) and assuming the employment of the 4-2-3-1 formation, then Sakho, Moses, Lanzini, and Zarate should all start the game. Note how much Lanzini’s game improved once Zarate came on against Spurs. All of a sudden Lanzini, started to ‘sparkle’, albeit all too late.
Our central midfielders should be the pairing of Kouyate and Alex Song – Noble is simply not playing well enough to warrant him starting. With Song and Lanzini starting, we have essentially two playmakers on the field.
I have seen Jenkinson play well too many times, so let’s stick with him – we need his pace and over-lapping capacity. I also believe Moses had a fairly decent game against Spurs, and again, he has the outright pace that works in our favour.
Antonio, Obiang, and Jelavic represent the best impact players in the squad.
No matter who we play, it is imperative that we start fast and score early. This serves to ignite further enthusiasm and motivation needed in order to score again, before the opposition has time to re-organise.
Taking into account the quality and depth of the present squad (minus Payet & Valencia), and the imperative to score ‘the all-important first goal’, then the question arises; is the present 4-2-3-1 the best formation to enhance our scoring/striking prowess? Should we give some thought to a 4-4-2 (standard or in ‘diamond’ mode)?
A midfield four, consisting of Moses-Kouyate-Lanzini-Song, with Sakho and Zarate as our two striker may be a very promising set-up, which is capable of generating fast-attacking football, with more than reasonable goal-scoring potential.
Should Slaven choose to use such a formation, I’d moot the use of the same impact players as suggested above.
I still remain optimistic, despite the 4-1 outcome against a very good Spurs team. This should not be the cause for making premature remarks relating to Parker’s comments about us being a mid-table club.
Assuming that Slaven continues to listen, look, learn, and apply, we may still be able to stay near or around the top eight, until the awaited return of Payet and Valencia.
Should my optimistic prediction reflect a reasonable scenario, then during the period encompassing our last 10-11 games, we could push on further towards fifth, sixth or seventh position, allowing a Europa League place being possible.
Ambitious, you may well say? Maybe, but we must continue to hang on to our dreams!