Saturday Thoughts: Waiting too Late to Play, What a Difference a Week Makes

24 August 2013

The biggest thing that grabbed me today was seeing how two teams in particular waited until they fell behind before starting to try and get into the action. Those teams, Aston Villa and Fulham, deserved the defeats they were involved in today.

It's not a good time to be a Fulham fan. Their defense is already not the best in the world, and having Taarabt on the pitch is like having to play a man down when having to defend. However, some would argue the best defense is to attack, but it wasn't until they were already 1-0 down before they did. Even then, they were too slow to second chance efforts, and Szczesny was able to make the makeshift defense in front of him look better than they were. It wasn't until Darren Bent came on an hour in before they really started to look serious. Unfortunately, they were 3-0 down before Bent was able to start to put the ghosts of Aston Villa behind him.

Fulham's two best players on the pitch today only came into the club in the last eight days. Stekelenburg being out did hurt Fulham, and they have to hope gets healthy soon. Unfortunately, they're still on zero points, and I'm struggling to figure out when they're going to get a first, much less three.

Aston Villa is an early favorite for most frustrating team of the season. In all three matches, they have waited until going behind to start playing in a manner that I'm pretty sure everyone sees is their best. When that midfield pinches in the actual midfield instead of at the top of their defensive third, they actually get Benteke involved.

However again today, they decided to lay off the ball early, and Daniel Sturridge took full advantage of it. Again, once they crowed Liverpool in the midfield, they became the more dangerous side. However, it wasn't until the late inclusion of Helenius before it started to look like Villa could equalize. It was the sub's header that got Benteke in, but it was Kolo Toure that made just enough of an intervention to prevent the Villa forward from opening up to the far post.

When Villa realizes they can hang for 90 minutes, they're going to be good. Unfortunately, the lack of confidence early in matches is only hurting them now...because it's obvious to me they should have no problem hanging with the top teams in this league.

Other thoughts from today's action:
* What a difference this week has made for Arsenal. After losing last week, they've spent this week scoring six goals. The biggest difference for me today was seeing Podolski looking more comfortable in the attack, and looking like the player he was a Koln. He's not just a goal poacher, and he showed that with his second today. Giroud is starting to slowly look the genuine article as well. I don't think they need help going forward, they have enough help there. If Arsenal can find some adequate defensive cover, and maybe a starting center back before the transfer window closes, they are going to be better than many (myself included) thought prior to the season started.

* Everton/West Brom and Newcastle/West Ham were ironic nil draws. The irony being the two sides that many were expecting to lose had the better quality chances in the game. If West Brom had any true attacking bite, they would have stolen three points out of Goodison Park. Neither side at St. James Park had a good chance to win until the final few minutes of the match, and it wasn't until stoppage time before Newcastle should have won it. Newcastle looked better today, but that's tantamount to damning with faint praise.

* Michael Turner continues to be Norwich City's player of the season. People may say the penalty decision was soft, but when take out a player from behind, regardless if it looks like its slow motion; you're going to have the call go against you. To make matters worse, Norwich couldn't break down Hull City in the second half despite being a man up. Having Tom Huddlestone in the middle of the Tiger defense brought the same positives it did the week before against Chelsea. If Hull can find goals from open play, they'll be just fine.

* If Liverpool continue to have this many second half lapses in defense, they are eventually going to be bitten. If they are going to defend, bring most of the midfield back to help. It has seemed to me in these first two games that the midfield is playing too far forward. While that maybe to help speed up service to Sturridge in the counter attack, it's not doing them any favors. Mignolet also looked impressive in stopping what Petr Cech couldn't in midweek.

* The sooner both Southampton and Sunderland learn to defend set pieces, the better. They both made the same mistakes today they made opening weekend. Unlike last week, Southampton paid for their lapse today.


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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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