So, as it stands going into the international break, we are currently 7th in the league table in what can best be described as a mixed start to the season. We’ve won matches we weren’t expected to, and lost matches in very much the same manner. From an outsiders point of view I suspect many are thinking we are overachieving, yet many of us will have that nagging feeling that we could actually be doing a bit better if we eliminated half of our mistakes where we’ve gifted opposition goals.
When you look at the table there are just three points separating Palace in 4th, to Liverpool in 10th and when I look at the teams in this group Palace, Leicester, West Ham, Everton, Spurs I see teams who set up very similar to ourselves with 3 players behind a centre forward, 4 defenders and 2 holding midfielders.
I believe the key to pushing on and finishing as high as possible amongst this group, is going to be what sort of Alex Song reappears when fully fit. Will it be the one who purred from September to December or the one that appeared after Christmas? If the right one turns up, this can only improve our home form. As much as I love Mark Noble’s attitude and desire at times I just feel he can be a little slow in possession, and also guilty of trying to switch play too readily. In a time when the majority of teams are organised and have eight/nine men behind the ball I just think that little bit of difference could be key. Although not up to their standards I do see similarities in the Song/Kouyate partnership to that of Petit/Vieira.
The other situation, I see as an interesting one is where a fit Enner Valencia will fit into our side. His best work was clearly in partnership with Sakho last season, and I think this also suits Sakho better as he never seems to enjoy the role he is currently playing, having to hold the ball up and bring others into play, to me he seems so much on his game picking up balls threaded behind a defence.
Could the key to a successful season be switching back to Big Sams midfield diamond? Would Payet thrive in the role at the tip? Would you still be able to accommodate Moses in this formation, or would the team end up looking like one of Garth Crooks’ teams of the week with too many attacking players playing.
I’m certainly looking forward to seeing how the next two months play out, we have some tough fixtures coming up. I fancy us to nick 3 points at Selhurst, then the next 4 fixtures are going to be tricky. We could have really done with playing Chelsea before the international break as my head tells me they will sort themselves out before then.