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Everyone talks about the difference Bale makes, but 3 matches without Lennon (in the main - he had one sub appearance) = 3 disappointing performances. Coincidence?
I think not, without Lennon we've seriously lacked shape going forward. A pity he'll miss international duty (6 Spurs players called for England snr team!!), but hopefully it'll be the rest he needs to be able to fight for the rest of the season.
We also seem to have had a defense transformation; the back four were amazing against Arsenal but seem to have lost the tight lines and incisive tackles since then, it's been at best clumsy (Walker in particular - he would have a crazy phase just after I've said how much his defensive play's improved!).
Some of the team selections seem to have been a bit odd, but what worried me was that against I think Fulham, poss Inter (or both) it looked like we'd run out of ideas going forward; for a couple of games between the "give it to Bale" days and present there was a time of team-wide attacking, but it's been lacking in the last game or two. Holtby's first couple of appearances showed a more gung-ho attitude which I liked, hopefully we'll see that again soon.
I didn't find the Pool game that disappointing - the result was - but I thought the way we played belied the result.
I must admit that I don't follow some of AVB's decisions - they do seem a bit odd - but again as I don't know the causes and 'reasoning' for the decisions it's hard to judge.
I know we keep revisiting this, but I really think we've missed a trick by allowing Bale to roam. I'm not so sure the strikers goal tally would have been so low at this stage, had we played with two wide men. And I still think Bale would have got 10 goals from wide anyway (OK that's a guess). Maybe that's simply because I like seeing wingers in full flow - and I like the options it gives. It must make it difficult for the 'creative' players like Glyfi and Dembele, when the wide options become restricted.
I had hoped that AVB would sort the post-Christmas goal drought - and maybe he has, as it looks like we have roughly the same no of goals after Christmas as we did from the opening games (although I'm not sure that that doesn't possibly point to a poor start rather than curing the slump!). So as long as we knock in another 20+ goals in the remaining games then we should be ok - it looks like we'll need the average of 'win the homes, draw the aways' (ie two points per game) to get us to the magical 70 points.