Date: 15th May 2017 at 12:14pm
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This isn’t about whether we should buy player X or Y, it’s an attempt identify what we need to do better as a team if we want to win a title. In fact the area that needs addressing isn’t hard to spot.

We actually have the best home record in the division with 53 points from a possible 57. Chelsea have two more home games to play, assuming they win those they will have 51 points from a possible 57. But when you look at the away records it’s a bit different. Chelsea have 42 points from a possible 57, we have two more away games to play and currently have 27 points with a maximum possible return of 33. That’s the title right there.

If we want to win we must perform better away from home, it’s that simple. The question is how to do it. I suspect it mainly comes down to two things, tactics and pace.

Pochettino has developed his tactics this year with the team able to change formation even during games. But it’s all based on the same basic strategy, press high, control the ball, pass your way through the opposition. Our home record shows this works on our own pitch, our away record shows it’s a lot harder to do on someone else’s pitch in front of their supporters. You are put under more pressure away from home, it’s harder to control a game. Teams like Chelsea can adapt when they are under pressure, we seem to keep playing the same way. You really need to be able to play on the counter when you have to, which is where the question of pace comes in. We saw it against United. They were on the back foot for the entire game, yet Martial and when he came on Rashford were causing problems simply by the speed at which they broke forward. The only player we have who can do that is Son. Rose and Walker have pace but by definition if you are under pressure away from home your defenders will be focused on defending.

Maybe what we need is a couple of quick players added to the squad and a game plan on how to play when we don’t have so much of the ball.

One additional thought concerns set pieces. Although he’s had a great season Eriksen doesn’t seem to score from free kicks like he used to, maybe it’s time we gave someone else a chance. Perhaps more important are corners. If we get a corner there is a 2% chance of a goal, if West Brom get one there is a 10% chance. When you are trying to grind out a win under pressure set pieces can make the difference, we need to be better at them. Of course our season may be disrupted by Wembley next year. But this won’t actually affect our away games so no reason not to try and make that improvement that could make all the difference.


2 Replies to “Improvement Needed”

  • Nice one Jod! I agree we struggle with pacey players & something should, perhaps, be done to address this. I also agree about set-pieces, they can be infuriating. Personally speaking, I’d have Davies (if he’s playing) and Trippier taking corners. As you suggest, Eriksen can be extremely frustrating in that particular department. I used to constantly say to myself, Why can he find the top corner from 25-30 yards, yet can’t get a corner beyond the front post/first defender? Infuriating & puzzling!

    I wish I had the answers Jod mate, but I agree the areas you bring up DO need addressing. I’ll get hammered for this but, when he returns, assuming he does return & isn’t sold, Lamela would be a good alternative for set-pieces around the box. Then again, so would Dier or Vertonghen if it’s a direct free-kick.

  • Jod – great article. “tactics and pace” are indeed the right 2 words. The third is probably “depth”. If I think back over the season there has been so much dialogue on Davies, Wimmer, CCV, Onomah, Sissoko, Janssen, Lamela, N’Koudou etc. Some like Trippier and Winks have stepped up and given us genuine depth whilst Davies came good in the end but doesn’t offer us the pace that we would ideally like. If we can add pacy players into the mix then that will add a little more counter attack in there. It is also why I don’t agree with losing our quickest player, Walker, especially when we move to the Wembley pitch.

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