Disjointed. That’s the best word I can come up with for last night’s display against Brighton. There’s no doubt that Saturday’s game is the most important one and making changes for the match yesterday was inevitable, but we were never going to have a free flowing performance with the team that was selected.
There is a difference between having fresh players and match fit ones. The likes of Sissoko, Lucas and Toby are fresh after having started very few matches recently, but for some, the lack of match sharpness was evident.
It’s very difficult to thrust a group of players together, and expect a performance when you make changes, not necessarily so much in the number of personnel changes, but how they were set up to play.
How many times have you seen the midfield pairing of Sissoko and Wanyama? In the second half, we tried Lucas from the left hand side, and Son with Kane through the middle. The switch certainly helped us open up the Seagulls for the opening goal, but other than that, our lack of creativity showed.
Personally, the centre midfield pairing was the biggest flaw. You have to have someone in the middle who can control the tempo, and neither were able to give us the opportunity to put Brighton under sustained pressure with long spells.
The partnership was essentially one selected with the FA Cup semi-final in mind, keeping Dembele and Dier fresh and ready for the weekend. There’s no doubt we were the better side, but the draw means we don’t have the momentum we would have liked heading into the game against United.
Poch’s one eye on the prize is certainly understandable considering the desire to see this team win its first trophy, but as I’ve said before, there have been some worrying signs over the last few matches that we are not at our best.
We can excuse last night’s performance as being down to the number of changes made, but during April, there has only really been one half of football against Chelsea for me that shows the level of football that will be required at Wembley. Hopefully, we can turn on the style when needed on Saturday.