The following is kindly offered by Big Fat Ron. Cheers fella.
The new season is hurtling towards us and the talk has not surprisingly turned to team selections and new signings.
Two key questions that have popped up recently are can Buendia and Coutinho play together and does Gerrard even need any more new recruits. The consensus seems to be “no” to the former and “yes” to the latter. However, the opposite may well be true. Coutinho and Buendia should and must play together and no, as things stand, Gerrard doesn’t need any more new recruits.
Let’s begin with Coutinho and Buendia. The most basic rule of picking a football team is you pick your best players. These two are probably the two best players at the club.
A recent comment was made about not enough chances being created.
With these two in the team, the man up top will have so many chances, they will have a problem in that if they don’t put a large percentage away, they will take a lot of flak, and rightly so. Through-balls and defence splitting passes will be in plentiful supply. There is absolutely no reason why they can’t play together, one on each side of the main striker, switching positions, dropping deep and causing absolute terror and mayhem amongst opposition defences.
Not starting with two outstanding footballers who can unlock defences would be a massive mistake on Gerrard’s part.
The next one is do we need a striker? To answer this, we need to establish if a striker is available that is better than what we have. The answer is most probably “no”.
Ings is one of the best finishers in the league, without doubt – an instinctive finisher who can score from anywhere. Dare I say, he should be first choice?
Watkins is arguably proven at PL level and his work rate often gets him plaudits, but doubts remain about his goal ratio, despite some interesting comments recently about the proportion of chances he converts. If Buendia and Coutinho were to start with him, he would have no excuses to not bag a minimum of 20 league goals.
Then there is Archer. There is a feeling that this young man could well be a better finisher than both the men apparently ahead of him in the pecking order. I wonder how tempted Gerrard is to start him. A front three of Archer, Coutinho and Buendia could well yield phenomenal results far beyond our wildest dreams. Then there is Bailey and Traore as top-notch impact subs (based on their injury problems) to replace either wide-man at either point. Wow. That is some serious firepower and creativity.
So if we don’t need a striker, are there any other weak positions? To answer that, it’s useful to ascertain if the manager has two top class first elevens to select from. We might be surprised by the answer. In goal, two internationals. Nothing needed there. In central defence, Mings, Carlos (probably the first choice pairing), as well as Konsa, Hause, and Chambers. The depth is there. There is an argument to upgrade Hause with a world class player to play alongside Carlos. But is he out there? And would he come? The full-backs: Digne – world class? And Cash – top class? Both now established internationals, ably supported by Young and Augustinsson, both vastly experienced with international pedigree. A good word for Freddy Guilbert, who has always shown to have all the attributes Gerrard likes in a full-back: tigerish in the tackle and capable of assists for the forwards – has chipped in with the odd goal, too. Surely, worth a squad number and some cup games? Not to mention Kessler-Hayden. Bar a world class centre-back, the back line looks extremely strong.
Now it gets interesting: the midfield. Similar to the other areas, of course, if a world class talent that was gettable came up, by all means…But the talent in midfield is there. Let’s assume Gerrard will play with one holding midfielder. That is now Kamara’s spot to lose. Behind him are Nakamba and the ever impressive Iroegbunam. Not to mention the versatile Chambers as an option. That’s at least three defensive midfielders of quality. So even if Gerrard wanted to go with two for tougher away games, the depth is there.
That leaves two more places for the main engine-room in front of Kamara and behind the front three. Surely, we need look no further than Ramsay and McGinn? Energy, dynamism, combativeness, creativity, goals – all there. With world class players in front and strong back-up behind. Challenging for those two spots will be Luiz, Sanson, Aaron Ramsay, and the other defensive midfielders who could potentially play higher up. There is a strong argument that an upgrade for Sanson is definitely doable. Other than that, the midfield is not short of talent or depth.
To conclude, a stating eleven of Martinez, Cash, Digne, Mings, Carlos, Kamara, McGinn, Ramsay, Buendia, Coutinho, and…what the heck, Archer, looks a mouth-watering proposition.
The only question that remains and will no doubt be debated no-end in the next nine months, is can Steven Gerrard get this hugely talented team and squad to fire Villa to cup glory and European qualification? Because that has to be the target.