I didn’t really want to talk about the Chelsea game for obvious reasons, but I don’t think I can avoid it because it’s totally relevant to our upcoming game.
Yet again, the team looked leggy and also mentally slow. It’s literally like we’ve run out of ideas in every area. We’ve gone from being one of the most feared attacking teams with loads of pace to now offering Ollie Watkins barely a sniff of the ball and even less chances.
Whenever we’re attacked, the defence immediately seems to go into panic mode and we look likely to concede. There is of course a fair excuse here and it doesn’t help when most of your first choice defence is missing.
Even the midfield have been poor and players who have been fantastic, including Luiz and McGinn have been performing a lot worse than we know they can and it’s the Scot in particular who concerns me.
I’m sure we all remember McGinn’s time under Gerrard, where he was so consistently poor and it got so bad that fans were seriously questioning if he should remain at the club. Well, I suspect that is an indicator of how long it might take him to get back to his “A” game. I’m not suggesting that he’s disillusioned or anything like that, but I do think it’s a mental tiredness that won’t be sorted quickly.
Of course, Unai Emery will know if I’m talking rubbish or not, as there seem to be dozens of people nowadays studying all the metrics of when the lads play or train, but it’s my guess that the numbers will be down and peak anything will be lower than it was earlier in the season.
Anyway, team news.
There are no new injuries and the main news is that we may have Lucas Digne back. Further good news is that Pau Torres might actually be fit enough to start and that’s a big plus because I think it’s more than coincidence that we’ve looked a poorer team for the last few weeks.
Nicolo Zaniolo came off the bench on Wednesday and I’d expect him to possibly start, even if it’s only for fresh legs, as he’s not quite turned out to be the player I thought he was. Still, some need time to adjust, I suppose.
We no doubt all know who’s missing as we’ve missed them massively and it’s what most of any discussion involves lately.
Man Utd face eight weeks without Lisandro Martinez, who has suffered knee ligament damage.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka has suffered a setback in training and Mason Mount, Tyrell Malacia and Anthony Martial are all out.
Prediction time then and it’s bad news I’m afraid.
I don’t think United are a good side by any sense of the imagination, but they do seem to be playing with the consistency that we’ve known them for over the years. Certainly more than us anyway, having won 3 drawn 1 and lost 1 in their last five games.
Then again, it’s perspective time and while I’m thinking that things look desperately bad, we’ve won 2 drawn 1 and lost 2, which is only two points worse than Spurs, who I thought were catching us at a rate of knots. Not quite so, but they are catching us. I think it’s what’s at stake that has given everything an increased sense of urgency and probably in my case even a bit of panic, when things aren’t going well.
Which all means that we need to get our act together sharpish if we want to maintain our position.
Sadly, I don’t think this is the game for that and I totally expect Man Utd to simply have too much for us. I’m expecting a big contrast to our recent game against them, where they were lucky to win after we threw it away and I fully expect them to just outplay us particularly in the middle.
A 3-1 loss it is then.