I’ve had a nightmare weekend overall.
Long story short, we had a holiday booked for Monday in Gran Canaria. The hotel was changed on Friday night and the new one was totally unsuitable, so I’ve spent since then looking for an acceptable alternative. I’ve sorted it now, but it’s been a nightmare and it’s why I’ve left it so long to write my thoughts on the game. Stress isn’t the word.
Still, I realise that it’s a first world problem and I’m probably very lucky to be going on holiday at all in these tough times.
The footy partly made up for things though and what a pleasant surprise it was to see what I thought was a very good performance. I’ve said plenty about why I have my doubts about Steven Gerrard, but fair play, I’m happy to say I think it was his tactics that won us this game. I’m not sure what formation we were playing, but I’ve seen it said we were playing a 4-4-2 diamond, a 3-4-2-1 and a 4-2-1-3. It was definitely four at the back for most of the time and it looked like Chambers was playing the holding mid role, but whatever it was, it allowed our midfield to actually dominate the opposition for once.
In hindsight things seem obvious, but how long have we all been complaining about how our midfield never matches the other team? I’d like to think a lightbulb has been switched on in Gerrard’s head and he realises that 4-3-3 just doesn’t work for us.
After the game, Andy Gray said that we dismantled Burnley and I found myself thinking that that was exactly the right description of what we did. I’ve seen comments that we were nothing special in this game, but I think that’s miles off the mark.
I’d commented that Burnley have been fighting for dear life in their last few games, so while I’m very tempted to just think they were just very poor opposition, I really don’t think that was the case and I’d be doing the lads a massive disservice.
No, I think they worked incredibly hard and the Burnley midfield just couldn’t live with us.
I fully expected things to change at half time and Burnley would beef up their midfield, but it didn’t happen. We actually seemed to find more space and John McGinn looked much more the marauding midfielder we’ve been used to. Indeed it was one of his baals in that led to a goal. It’s not difficult is it? Use the players for what they do best.
Maybe Gerrard knows this (and he probably does) and will bring in the players we really need, as opposed to headline signings most likely pushed by Purslow, after all?
There were also a couple of other things that really pleased me.
I’ve said previously that I can’t abide timewasting, but that we need to be able to do it better purely because that’s what winning teams do. So it was with a heavy heart that it perversely tickled me that the home crowd were on Martinez’s back for much of the game for taking so long whenever he had the ball.
It was inexcusable really, because it started before the half hour mark and I didn’t think there was any need for it, but there’s no doubt it helped to unsettle everyone.
Trust a South American to show us how “ungentlemanly conduct” is done, eh?
And then there was the physical side of things. I thought Burnley roughoused it on more than a few occasions, but we didn’t let it get to us and often dished out enough of our own physicality, which was massively encouraging.
It just shows, we can match other teams, but only if you don’t hamstring the midfield by not providing enough players where it counts.
Big shout outs to Buendia, who was my MOTM and is slowly starting to look like the player that a Norwich fan told me he was many months ago. “He’s got the lot” still rings in my ears.
I thought Luiz looked better being able to play further forward to. I honestly hope he stays, because I think he’s been seriously marked down by our fans for being played out of position all season.
And how good was it to see Ings and Watkins both on the scoresheet? I’m still not convinced, but maybe they can play together after all?
Indeed, I can’t say anyone played poorly and whisper it quietly, but that includes Mings too.
Liverpool up next and I should be sweating my proverbials off while I watch that one.