So that could’ve been worse. I think that’s my main takeaway from the weekend. We all know the team struggles without Mousa Dembélé and we were reminded of that this weekend. Given that, it was always going to be a tough match. Add to that a road trip to a team that should finish in the top half, a capable manager who sets his teams up well and can spring a surprise (as he did on Saturday), and Hugo Lloris exiting after a half hour due to injury... well, it could’ve been worse.
The good news is we inaugurated the Year of Coco with Lamela’s equalizer midway through the second half. The other good news is that both Kyle Walker and Danny Rose once again looked very good and Toby looked like Toby. We also saw the added flexibility that Victor Wanyama offers us as he proved to be a very capable defensive midfielder when played on his own, even if he struggled when playing alongside Eric Dier. For a season opener, it wasn’t bad.
What’s more, the remainder of the weekend was a good reminder not to panic: City looked decent but not great, United relied on a Rooney-Ibra pairing that still doesn’t look convincing, and Arsenal and Liverpool both reminded us of what happens when you play without a midfield. Everyone has issues to sort through. Here’s hoping we figure ours out first.
On to the links:
Claudio Bravo may be leaving Barcelona to take the starting goalkeeper job from Joe Hart at the Etihad as the Pep Revolution continues.
Blackburn Rovers are a good example for Leicester and Spurs of what not to do when making a rare Champions League appearance.
This old The Times article about the gegenpress coming to Huddersfield Town is a fun read. (Paywalled, but you can get two free articles per week if you register.)