My Blood Is Blue

West Ham 3 Chelsea 2

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24 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

A very harsh defeat. We played well enough to earn a point, certainly better than against Watford. Conceding a deflected cross in the last minutes is as unlucky as it gets. Doesn't even give you the time to react to such misfortune.

It's funny, the overreaction to this day of results. The Juventus performance was 10 days ago, when we were deemed the best side in Europe by various pundits. We were very good, one of the best in Europe rather than the best, because we're in a league that has statistically the best 2 sides in Europe (with historically good numbers), in their 6th-7th year of top coaching, with investment, and with some luck with injuries. 

So in one week it's back to panic station.

The explanation is clear from Tuchel's post-game presser. If you're playing 2 guys through injury/pain, the physical status of your team is not good at all.

We are still the same team that played against Juventus, the difference is that since then, we've lost 2 players per game to injury. 

Juventus: Kanté, Chilwell

United: James, Jorginho, Werner

Watford: Chalobah

West Ham: Havertz, Alonso

Considering that we played late Sunday then Wednesday evening (3 days) then Saturday lunchtime (2 days), that's the most ridiculous schedule we'll play - rivalling Boxing Day. 

At some point, injuries and the collateral damage (changes, lack of rotation, fatigue) catches up even with the best teams. It's pretty obviously what happened to Liverpool last season, from top in Christmas to out of the top 4 a month later. They were still a very good team, they were too decimated to cope.

I imagine that Liverpool without their 3 first choice CMs would be crappy, maybe City would cope with that but they do have the deepest squad in the entire continent.

All of this to say, we're seeing unusual mistakes from very reliable players (Silva, Mendy, Jorginho - some punished, some not), and that's definitely down to fatigue, physical and mental. It reminds me of the end of last season with a similar turnaround between the FA Cup games, the CL games and the Top 4 dog fight and we conceded more goals than usual in similar fashion. We had a full week to prepare the C finalL, we had everyone back fit, and we produced one of our best performances ever in Porto - one week after that defeat to Villa that followed a crazy schedule of Arsenal, Leicester, Leicester, Villa in 10 days.

Players aren't machines. When Jorginho, Alonso play through injury and pain, it's hard not to have a drop off in form. When Lukaku plays 45 minutes and he's clearly not match fit. Rudiger has played every minute back from the international break. That's enough of fatigue to lose that 5 or 10% of physical levels to make you a little slower to press, a little slower to attack challenges, a little slower to track back. 

It was obvious in the 2nd half. I thought the 1st half was pretty good, solid and controlled overall. But in the 2nd half, we were slower in the counterpress, and that comes from everyone. For the 2nd goal, Ziyech looks knackered and doesn't track back, we drop deep and we open ourselves to danger. Just one example of lacking freshness.

For more tactical observations, seems that Tuchel learned from the Utd & Watford game to mitigate RLC's lack of defensive awareness and impact as a deep CM. Rarely does he start both of Ziyech & Mount, they're both auxiliary playmakers/CMs so one of them is usually enough and it allows to have a runner/inside forward type AM. This time, it allowed to pack the center, and they alternated as the 3rd CM, basically a 3-men midfield that allowed RLC to play higher, and much much better than the disastrous #6 performance against Watford and the ineffective performance in the double pivot against United.

It's not ideal  as you'd want one AM who attacks the box, but it's necessary until one of Kovacic/Kanté come back.

I hope Tuchel gives the squad 2 days off with the game being on Wednesday. Players badly need the rest. 2 new players injured per game is a worrying trend. And the Zenith result isn't that important when it's your squad's fitness status at play. I'd rest all of Mendy, Silva, Rudiger, Jorginho, Alonso, James - we simply have to get fit now. That's the priority. It's hard to improve performances when you're starting unfit players, the sacrifice has to be made now.

No panic, just a recognition of the fact that we aren't quite a league winning side yet.

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9 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

A very harsh defeat. We played well enough to earn a point, certainly better than against Watford. Conceding a deflected cross in the last minutes is as unlucky as it gets. Doesn't even give you the time to react to such misfortune.

You are absolutely right about the accumulating challenges of injury and games played.  Points very well made.  And even with our big squad it does seem we are playing players not fully fit - in part because Saul has been dropped regardless.  Ziyech has played 274 mins in 11 days.  I bet he never did that at Ajax.


I'm not sure though that this performance was better than Watford.  
You have to go back to Brentford or Man City to get an xg score as bad as that (understat), and that fits with my recall too.image.thumb.png.36fe5e71f9f7f2c8e0144638a042a89f.png

What worried me was not our struggle to score against a deep defence, it was the times they came out and flooded our half and scared the life out of our players.  That is very rare since TT arrived.  

I think we have to credit Moyes a lot.  I mentioned before, I couldn't tell if WHU were playing a deep block or a high press.  It kept changing but it did seem the whole team did the same and it was disciplined.  It was a clever hybrid approach.  Just as we looked so much more organised and playing with a clear plan when TT arrived, WHU looked more organised that us today.  I think of the teams we have played only City look this well organised.

We have copied or adapted  Pep's old 4 second approach to pressing.  WHU have something much more sophisticated.

 

25 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

For more tactical observations, seems that Tuchel learned from the Utd & Watford game to mitigate RLC's lack of defensive awareness and impact as a deep CM. Rarely does he start both of Ziyech & Mount, they're both auxiliary playmakers/CMs so one of them is usually enough and it allows to have a runner/inside forward type AM

Yes.   RLC in a 66 was a flop and since then he has mostly played just behind the front 5.  or in what I call the 9 in a 69, a little ahead of the 6, which Kovacic and Kante were playing earlier in the season.

The Watford first half was ZZ as much as 66 for 45 mins, then he had a good 15 mins behind the strikers with Chalobah as a solid and low risk DM, and then a poor last 30 as the sole DM 

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SabCFC   
1 minute ago, RDC Williams said:

No panic, just a recognition of the fact that we aren't quite a league winning side yet.

We are competing, and we will continue to compete. We hit our best form in the Leicester game and that's when injuries started piling up to a point we've started the 4th choice and 5th choice CMs in a PL game. Injuries in a short period of time are a big deal, it's what happened to Liverpool last season (and they're not a different team now to then) and it's what happened to Chelsea in 2006/2007. It's about mitigation now until players get fit.

There is a difference between finishing on less than 70 points, and competing with the best sides this league has known for the past 5-10 years. Competing is a massive improvement, you can't control how good your rivals are. If they have a +90 points season, it's hard to be disappointed if we hit 85 points for example. It means a +15-20 points improvement compared to every season since 2017. That's the massive gap we've found ourselves in for the last couple of years and we're catching up, of that there is no doubt. In the Tuchel regime, we're catching up at a faster pace than any other team, both domestically and in Europe. 

Let's get through this period with the injury luck, get fit, let players take more days off, limit the damage in the table. Season is long, and I have no single doubt we'll bounce back and we'll be right there if the race is around 85-90 points. If it's more, then no big deal, plenty of other trophies to chase and we'll have a much better platform to build for the next year.

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24 minutes ago, boratsbrother said:

I ask about a title challenge and your reply is about winnings Cups🥴

Read the posts - you asked about teams and I gave you 2 teams.  What is it today that stops people reading even what they wrote themselves?

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41 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

A very harsh defeat. We played well enough to earn a point, certainly better than against Watford. Conceding a deflected cross in the last minutes is as unlucky as it gets. Doesn't even give you the time to react to such misfortune.

[Snipped for sake of brevity]

Spot on.

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SabCFC   
1 minute ago, Droy was my hero said:

You are absolutely right about the accumulating challenges of injury and games played.  Points very well made.  And even with our big squad it does seem we are playing players not fully fit - in part because Saul has been dropped regardless.  Ziyech has played 274 mins in 11 days.  I bet he never did that at Ajax.


I'm not sure though that this performance was better than Watford.  
You have to go back to Brentford or Man City to get an xg score as bad as that (understat), and that fits with my recall too.image.thumb.png.36fe5e71f9f7f2c8e0144638a042a89f.png

What worried me was not our struggle to score against a deep defence, it was the times they came out and flooded our half and scared the life out of our players.  That is very rare since TT arrived.  

I think we have to credit Moyes a lot.  I mentioned before, I couldn't tell if WHU were playing a deep block or a high press.  It kept changing but it did seem the whole team did the same and it was disciplined.  It was a clever hybrid approach.  Just as we looked so much more organised and playing with a clear plan when TT arrived, WHU looked more organised that us today.  I think of the teams we have played only City look this well organised.

I don't know about that. We didn't play great, but we certainly weren't bad enough to lose - the winning goal is the flukiest late winner you can have at this point. 

Although not on our best, we controlled this game much better than Watford in the 1st half. Their xG was inflated by the penalty in that first half. We didn't create much, for sure, though we always look threatening enough. West Ham are a good side, for certain, and they've caused problems to all the top teams. I think our 2nd half was bad as if we didn't know how to control a lead which is unusual. I felt the drop off physically in the 2nd half was obvious. Heck, James was losing the usual shoulder-to-shoulder battles he wins easily. They bullied us in the 2nd half.

But what can you really do when guys are playing through injuries? or hardly match fit, or just played on Wednesday night with less than 48 hours to recover? Of course, they'll be physically inferior to their opponents of the day - then luck goes against you. It's pretty harsh, and to me quite different to Watford when we couldn't even keep the ball for 5 minutes and we let them have a lot of shots.

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2 minutes ago, SabCFC said:

We are competing, and we will continue to compete. We hit our best form in the Leicester game and that's when injuries started piling up to a point we've started the 4th choice and 5th choice CMs in a PL game. Injuries in a short period of time are a big deal, it's what happened to Liverpool last season (and they're not a different team now to then) and it's what happened to Chelsea in 2006/2007. It's about mitigation now until players get fit.

There is a difference between finishing on less than 70 points, and competing with the best sides this league has known for the past 5-10 years. Competing is a massive improvement, you can't control how good your rivals are. If they have a +90 points season, it's hard to be disappointed if we hit 85 points for example. It means a +15-20 points improvement compared to every season since 2017. That's the massive gap we've found ourselves in for the last couple of years and we're catching up, of that there is no doubt. In the Tuchel regime, we're catching up at a faster pace than any other team, both domestically and in Europe. 

Let's get through this period with the injury luck, get fit, let players take more days off, limit the damage in the table. Season is long, and I have no single doubt we'll bounce back and we'll be right there if the race is around 85-90 points. If it's more, then no big deal, plenty of other trophies to chase and we'll have a much better platform to build for the next year.

I don't entirely disagree with you. There is definitely a structure to our playing style which points to an evolutionary improvement, but we aren't quite there yet and I don't think it's just down to injuries. Liverpool's drop last year was more emotional than anything else, although we do know that Klopp absolutely thrashes his players and they were somewhat physically spent after their efforts to win the title. They still finished comfortably above us, as they will again this year. City are another level above them.

If we can continue to improve we will, with luck, peak when the other two are on the wane and before the new wealth of Newcastle, Leeds  Everton and whoever else makes it even more difficult to win the league !

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Blue Rod   
19 minutes ago, RDC Williams said:

No panic, just a recognition of the fact that we aren't quite a league winning side yet.

I've been saying for weeks that we don't look like a title winning side,  much to the annoyance of our ultras. Time to review our blasphemy law perhaps.. 

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SabCFC   
Just now, RDC Williams said:

I don't entirely disagree with you. There is definitely a structure to our playing style which points to an evolutionary improvement, but we aren't quite there yet and I don't think it's just down to injuries. Liverpool's drop last year was more emotional than anything else, although we do know that Klopp absolutely thrashes his players and they were somewhat physically spent after their efforts to win the title. They still finished comfortably above us, as they will again this year. City are another level above them.

If we can continue to improve we will, with luck, peak when the other two are on the wane and before the new wealth of Newcastle, Leeds  Everton and whoever else makes it even more difficult to win the league !

Comfortably? No. 2 points better. They had their January slump and we had our December+January slump. They finished the season well once they had some of the midfielders back, and only one game to play per week. Meanwhile, we were going all the way to the FA Cup final, and playing semi-finals and final in CL. They gave up in CL after the game in Madrid. Their league form then suddenly improved with one game a week.

It was down to injuries. They had CBs out, which they replaced with CMs, which meant their midfield was crap then their attackers kept playing in a dysfunctional team and they got bad too. Now they're good again as they have their CBs back, their attackers all fit (all rested in the summer, no Euros), and Henderson/Fabinho back.

So yeah, I'd reckon Liverpool would love pretty **** with their 5th-6th CM choices, plus injuries to strikers, plus injuries to their crucial FBs. We've had all of those from mid-October to start of December. 

The history of the PL tends to comfort the reality that injuries can derail the season when they pile up in a limited period of time. It happened in 2006-2007 for Chelsea famously, and it happened to Liverpool last season. They were top in Christmas, undoubtedly the best team in the league until injuries piled up enough they couldn't keep up. 

It's about mitigation now. If we stay in touch points wise until we get some players back and others recover full match fitness, we can give it a go. Maybe not win, but be right there in the mix. 

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Rob B   
11 minutes ago, Blue Rod said:

I've been saying for weeks that we don't look like a title winning side,  much to the annoyance of our ultras. Time to review our blasphemy law perhaps.. 

In my opinion, we absolutely do look like a title winning side. The trouble is, so do Man City and Liverpool.  

And that is why there is only 2 points that separate the three teams after 15 matches. 

Long way to go yet… plus, I’m sure we would have taken this position in August…

Edited by Rob B

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