Some thoughts popped into my head while watching the West Brom tie. First was that this team plays exactly like the first team and has pretty much the same problems.
- Our defensive positioning was poor. Too often the opposition were able to build on a long ball
- No one could put a good cross in
- There was a lack of sharpness in the final third
- The ball was given away cheaply quite a few times. Even dangerously close to our box at times.
- Keeper was uncertain with aerial balls floated into the box
Well, I can make a very long list but that doesn’t make a difference. The point is not about finding faults with youngsters. They played well and it was an enjoyable game. There is a lot of potential for the future as well.
I remember the Carling Cup final we lost to Chelsea. I remember how Drogba troubled us. The worrying part is how the same thing still happens even after all the experience the players have gained. That makes me wonder if it has anything to do with experience at all or is it a more basic problem that we have not been able to identify and solve.
The second thought was that Wilshere resembles Rooney in more ways than one. He clearly has all the talent that the England striker has. Young Jack also has the diving ability of Rooney although he will have to hone it up to make it a little less obvious. He also has the ability to irritate opposition players and even get them sent off. Thankfully so far he has not displayed a similar rough streak himself and has not lost his temper as often as the United front man used to do. He also needs a little work on his shooting skills especially the power variety but that will certainly happen in due course. All said and done, Wilshere is a player who excites me every time he touches the ball.
A couple of other youngsters who impressed me were Coquelin and Watt. The young Frenchman made a few mistakes but also showed glimpses of his quality. There was a moment when Senderos had darted forward and Le Coq seamlessly drifted into the center back role and made an important interception. There was another moment when he put a lovely through ball for Watt. He looks very composed on the pitch and his touch looks like that of a pro. All the makings of a star I say.
Watt is another interesting player. The first word that came to mind was lanky. The second was quick. The third was hard working. He will grow up into a more powerful individual with time. There is nothing to be done there but he does have a lot of striking abilities. His instinct in front of goal is developing nicely. Right now he is the kind of a player who would thrive on counter attacks rather than setting up camp in the opposition half. But he does seem to be a better player than the likes of Barazite and Simpson.
Among the youngsters Szczesny looks promising. Sunu didn’t offer much. But he is not bad at all. He will take some getting used to stronger and faster players playing against him. Ramsey, Traore and Gibbs performed as expected.
The two experienced players did bring back some memories. Not happy ones either. Silvestre reminded me just how scary he can be. Senderos looked quite rusty. But he definitely has a lot more to offer. It might be interesting if we can give him 10-15 minutes of match time in some home games if we are leading comfortably. I have a feeling he needs that desperately.
Vela showed his class. He was on a different plane compared to the other 21 players on the pitch. I just hope that he recovers quickly and gets some first team action under his belt soon.
Final word goes to the crowd. It was great to see such a large turnout. It was almost as much as the Wigan game. Fantastic.