And our season starts with a disappointing, but not all that surprising, defeat at Brentford. Our defense unit was tested early on and irremediably, we conceded a goal in the first 25 minutes of the game – courtesy of poor decision-making. We then tried to push harder and create chances especially through Tierney, Pepe, ESR and even Xhaka but to no avail. In the second half, the team continued to struggle with Brentford’s long balls and hussle and finally conceded a second goal – some say that Leno should have been awarded a free-kick and others say that top GKs would not even have been in that situation, it is hard to tell. In any case, with 15 minutes to play, we were 2-0 down and were not really causing Brentford any real trouble…
So we were indeed missing Saka, Auba and Laca at the start so that could explain a bit of our lack of offensive threat but what about our defense? It was bullied from minute one and Ben White was struggling the whole game while Mari was not really better…Ben White did well in a back 3 set-up with 2 big players next to him – yesterday, it seems that he was looking like a lost boy. Leno continues to be his usual self – a decent GK, nothing more. Lockonga looked promising for his first game but he still has a lot to learn and improve on. AS for Xhaka, our captain for the night, he tried as always.
So all and all, we can’t say that the team is looking more drilled or confident or improved as the same defensive frailties could be seen and the same lack of cutting edge in front of goal was also visible but for the latter, I am ready to give some leniency since we were missing 3 key players. For the defensive side, I am a lot more critical.
How shall we sort our defensive weaknesses?
- Finally get a better GK?
- Revert to a back 3 with Holding, White, Gabriel and set up in a 343 or 352?
- Splurdge on a real midfield enforcer?
- Get a new coach?
Anyways – a familiar outing and outcome yesterday against a physical team that had a simple game plan: long balls, go for the second balls and press the central defenders…
There is a bit of time to sort the team out still and apparently, the club is now open to sell Aubameyang to raise cash. Let us see…