If you want my opinion of the first 70 minutes of the Norwich game please just read last weeks' write up on the West Brom match. There was seemingly very little difference in the two games.
The major difference was the attempt at playing 4-4-2 which was rendered ineffective by the poor performance of Drogba collaborated with terrible supply to the front line.
I am still reticent to aim any blame in the direction of Torres, I think if supply starts going his way and chances are going amiss then he can take some dung-flinging. As for now his team are just not making it easy for him. The only clear cut chance provided for him was when a little Spaniard entered the arena, to make a goal-scoring and hugely impressive debut.
The second difference in this game was that, although he scored and although up the field he was great, Jose Bosingwa proved exactly why we need a more secure right back.
Wing backs have been adopted in the Premier League for a fair few years now, and seemingly as the years go on the defensive ability in said players goes down the pan. Bosingwa's forward thinking was exploited far too often against Norwich, had a more clinical team been afforded the space Jose gave them we would have been punished.
And punished we were last season against Man United. Bosingwa gets caught out of position, making Ivanovic come further to the right and leave a glaring gap in the middle. Our 4-4-2 quickly became a 3-5-2.
Maybe I am being harsh on Bosingwa, because no doubt he has been great going forward. But I feel that if the midfield, now bolstered by Mata and Meireles, can do a better job we won't be left so bereft at the back.
One thing I really hoped to see AVB change this season was the lack of an out ball from opposition set pieces. With the pace and ability we have on offer, not to leave a man upfield at corners and free kicks seems like madness, surely Anelka and Ramires cannot be offering a great deal defensively in these situations?
So it wasn't until a horrible injury forced Drogba off, and the addition of Mata and Anelka to the side, that we really picked up momentum.
Mata was a much less restricted figure than Malouda, rather than staying static to the left of the pitch he was a roving attacking midfielder - most of note example, his goal from the right.
Time to crack out the app:
Passes: Mata vs Malouda
© Stats Zone via FourFourTwo
Malouda, on for double the time of Mata, completed one pass on the right hand side of the pitch, whereas Mata made the effort to cover all areas of the pitch and even grab one from that very side. Whether this is purely tactical from AVB or pure rigidness from Malouda remains to be seen, but it appears as it was meant to be a like for like change.
He brought a fluency to the passing that we haven't had in recent times, and where Anelka can sometimes slow the game down, Juan Mata had an ability to speed it up.
Players of certain ability can also bring the best out of their team-mates, him and Lampard linked up a couple of times to show that there is life in the old dog yet.
And whilst Anelka is oft criticised by some, he also has the ability to create something from nothing. Mata's clearance from a Norwich corner was innocuous at first, however some pace and strength from Nico allowed him to find the marauding Ramires who Bolted (after Usain of course) through to win a penalty.
Once again we are in a situation where we are finding negatives from a very positive result, and when the Manchester clubs are scoring for fun against the North London clubs it does make you worry a bit. But the media help to hype that up somehow, if we can sneak under the radar and notch up the points we will also find that we have some form to find.
Add to that the transfer deadline day signing of Meireles, the other signings in Romeu, Mata and Lukaku, as well as the youthful presence of Sturridge and McEachran, mixed in with a lot of experience in Terry, Lampard and Cole and we have one hell of a chance of competing. Our squad has an incredible depth to it.
Depth which was under threat with the very generous loan of Benayoun to Arsenal, still quite the baffling move but one that was salved with our late, late, signing of a player who was undoubtedly the best midfielder of Liverpool's campaign last season.
Where he will fit in is a mystery to me, I try and avoid tactically analysing opposition clubs by wearing rose tinted glasses at all times. From my understanding he operates in a very central role, not quite like Yossi who was more the Mata free playing style.
What is increasingly promising is this hope for a new system. We now have the players to ditch the old style and potentially play with some wingers. We were seemingly restricted to a Christmas Tree formation, now with Mata the shackles have been relinquished somewhat. Our centrality should hopefully be assuaged with Mata operating both wings.
So there is plenty to be excited about, one difficult game coming up against Sunderland and the first major challenge of the season at Old Trafford. If we can get full points from these two matches we will see a team injected not only with changes, but with new (and in the case of some, re-found) confidences.
Keep The Blue Flag Flying High!
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