The GoatyGav Column
With exhibition season in full swing, now, I have very little spare time, so it’s another short article from me this week.
Last night’s game started off very promisingly with the boys dominating in territorial and possession terms. Right from the word go, however, I was extremely impressed with Felipe Anderson’s work rate. When he first arrived expectation on the Brazilian was set very high but not so much in terms of his tracking back. This season he seems to be adding a superb work rate to his attacking qualities which is mirrored throughout the rest of the attacking personnel.
When in full flight ‘Peepay’ , as his younger sister, Juliana, used to call him, is an impressive sight. It’s not just his pace that excites but his ghosting runs that are such a spectacle. There’s a buzz of anticipation when he carries the ball at our opponents but he’s also got that silky, jinking elegance that the likes of Trevor Brooking and Alan Devonshire used to possess that helps make this team so entertaining and such a joy to watch. As well as these offensive skills Anderson is bringing a strong work ethic to his game and is becoming a more complete player as a result. Several times last night he was supporting Mas, or Zabba, winning the ball or closing down to deny Villa space – even winning the ball on occasion.
Frankly, and with all respect to our opposition who played well and threatened in the game, it was simply ‘one of those nights’. On balance the game could have gone either way, with Villa probably having slightly the better chances, but you just felt that our quality up top always made us the favourites in this fixture. If anything we looked the more likely after Masuaku’s sending off as Villa seemed to lose their intensity a little and began to mis-place passes. Right at the death I genuinely thought that we had it when Fornals, who looked improved from his first outing for us, couldn’t quite slide the ball in to Haller for the finish. A few moments before we might have gone one up if Fredericks had have stayed on his feet too.
Overall it wasn’t a bad point won in Birmingham. A shame we couldn’t win to go third but I can see real progress – especially defensively where we’ve now seen three clean sheets on the spin and have only conceded two goals in the last five. I’m excited about the visit of Man Utd this weekend. I think it’s going to be an absolute cracker of a game which I’m more confident, going in to, than I was about last night. Don’t ask me why – just a feeling. Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s at home and that away games are always extremely tough under the floodlights. Maybe it’s just a hunch. Either way I’m confident we’ll see a continuation of the high tempo work off the ball from the whole team.
Lastly it was another great win for the U23, Premier League 2, team last night. Running out 2-0 winners the boys have kept pace with Manchester United at the top of the table with 13 points out of a possible 15. Dimitri Halajko has done a fantastic job with the kids since joining from Leicester City in the Summer. Long may it continue with youngsters knocking hard on the door of the first team squad.
Have a good week everyone – see you after the big game on Sunday.
Come On You Rip Roarin’ Irons!