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The international break really comes in the most inopportune of times. We are riding on a wave of confidence helped by two consecutive clean sheets. That has only happened 3 other times this season. Once (3 consecutive matches) at the start of the season, once in late November and once more in early February. If we shut out Reading next weekend, it would match our best defensive run of the season. On reflection, that statement goes to prove one of the major weakness we’ve shown this season.

On top of our own recovery, the squad should be suitably pleased and motivated by what happened yesterday. Tottenham’s defeat to Fulham meant that the gap stays at 4 points and we’ve still played one match less than them. Win the postponed fixture against Everton and it would come down to just one point. Psychologically, the team in the lead will feel more pressure than the chasing team. Which also suit us find.

For them, the break comes at a bad time too, but for different reason. For us, we are unable to build on the feel good vibe surrounding the club at the moment. For them, they have 14 days to dwell on another defeat while looking at the diminishing lead they have in the league table. However, it also gives them 14 days to think about what have gone wrong and work towards rectifying it. Apparently, that’s what we did to turn around our fortunes around.

The papers today are running with the quotes from Per Mertesacker about how the players regroup and spent a lot of time looking back at the defeat in the North London Derby. Gathering the group around and analysing the problems we faced and the mistakes we made during that match. That sparked our improved defensive coordination and organisation in the subsequent matches against Bayern Munich and Swansea. Here’s my question though, is this a revolutionary idea?

The answer to that, is probably a big resounding NO. Quite why it has taken them so long to realise that videos of previous matches are good tools to be used for training exercises and overall performance improvement, is beyond me. On the other hand, I do not want to dwell on this because then it’s like moaning when there’s issue and moaning when the issue is trying to be solved. Not sure why we didn’t use it before but I’m very glad that we’ve finally come to use this technology.

I had all the above written yesterday but didn’t complete the rest of it. It seems there’s a slight twist in the news released today. Here’s an updated version of Mertesacker‘s story.

The big difference between the two is the involvement of the coaches. In the latest story, they didn’t exist. On an arrogant level, one could possibly think that these players do not need the coaches now that they have proved that they could sort themselves out. Or maybe they weren’t heeding whatever advise given by the coaching staff before. In any case, that’s in the past and better late than never.

As someone with experience of playing in defence at a very very low level, there’s no denying that it requires plenty of organisation and planning before hand. How to position yourself when we’re facing attack from one side of the pitch. How do you support your partner when a long ball is punt up his way. It’s the simple things about that and the positioning which the players can get use to and work it to our advantage.

Shame they are all away with their respective national teams and they can’t do further work on the training ground to improve the organisation.


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