In my preview of this match yesterday, I stated that there was now no Robbie Keane to blame everything on, should things go wrong. Someone commented that they hoped Jenas would play, so we could all blame it on him instead.
It made me laugh, but I never thought that it would become a reality, as I didn’t think that Jenas would start. Huddlestone and Palacios had played pretty well against Villa I’d thought, so why would you change anything?
Yet in his wisdom, Harry decided that we didn’t need a defensively minded midfielder against the likes of Wolves. The trouble is, nobody thought to tell the Wolves goalscorer David Jones, whose run into the box was completely ignored by both Jenas and Huddlestone, as he gave the home side a 1-0 lead. For the second half Jenas was replaced by Palacios, which tells you how well this little experiment went.
It wasn’t just in central midfield that Harry had made unnecessary changes. In total there were five changes from the team that played on Saturday, of which only one (Bassong) was enforced. Did I miss something against Villa? I’d thought that we’d actually played pretty well, even if it was an ultimately frustrating display.
Maybe one or two changes would have made a positive impact, but this amount just served to unsettle the side. Gudjohnsen doesn’t seem like he’s match fit, which isn’t surprising considering that he hardly played for Monaco. Surely he should have been eased into first team action from the bench, rather than just stuck in from the start, in an away game.
Gudjohnsen’s best contribution was a pass to Defoe, that the striker flicked into the path of Kranjcar, whose shot was saved. That was pretty much our best opportunity and shortly afterward Wolves took the lead.
At 1-0 there was a certain inevitability that the score would stay the same. Kranjcar brings more goalscoring ability to the team than Modric, but he drifts into the centre of midfield more often than his Croat teammate, which meant that we lacked width.
Presumably Kaboul was put into the team to provide more attacking thrust from right back, but he didn’t look like a natural in the position and I notice from looking at several message and comments boards that we all seem to have collectively just remembered that he is left footed.
Harry described this as our worst performance of the season and gave a general air of being mystified as to why the team played so badly. He doesn’t look very far to see who was to blame. I’m not saying that we wouldn’t have lost had we just fielded the same side that drew with Villa, but we certainly would have had more of a chance.
Villa and Liverpool also dropped points last night, but notice that this was against Manchester United and Arsenal, rather than Wolves. At the moment, it looks like we should be more worried about whether we can get into the Europa rather than the Champions League.
If it wasn’t for the possible return of Lennon, then I’d write off our chances completely. Get well soon Aaron.