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Lack of Creativity or Energy or Both

By Mike Oates :  21/03/2009 :  Comments (16) :
The two biggest problems Moyes faces is what to do when Cahill and Arteta are missing, either one of them... or even worse when both are missing. The end of last season was a tale of woe, with only 2 wins from last 9 fixtures when both were missing. The loss of any one of them causes problems ? Arteta?s creativity, Cahill?s energy... we can just about cope with one missing but when both go ? as today at Pompey ? then we are completely lost.

I think the above paragraphs are the consensus views of the fans but I believe that Moyes also feels the exactly same way.

When he loses Arteta he has been unsure how best to get the side to be creative ? there is no other like-for-like player in the squad. Ossie and Pienaar have not got the physical strength to dictate play and Fellaini hasn?t yet demonstrated that he can fill the role. Neville and Rodwell are both defensive-minded.

Cahill surprised us all when he managed against Middlesborough to dictate the play in the first 15 mins of the second half and we scored 2 quality goals. He unfortunately then faded. And when we loses Arteta, it's like losing the brain of the team. We can cope without Arteta with Cahill in the side ?but as we all know our goals tend to be from set pieces rather than creative open football.

When we lose Cahill, we lose the only player who gets under the opposition noses, the only player capable of surprise in their box and quite frankly the heart of the team. Again, we have no like-for-like replacement. Once again, we can just about cope when Arteta is playing, but only just (stats show we miss Cahill more than Arteta); maybe just maybe Gosling can do this role in a season or so.

Moyes basically loves the 4-4-1-1 system, where Cahill is the either of the 1s depending on whether Jô or Fellaini is playing. When he loses Cahill he either goes 4-5-1 or more often now 4-4-2 (as today). What is clear is that 4-4-2 doesn?t suit us with the players we have left: Osman, Pienaar, Neville, Fellaini, Rodwell and Gosling.

Going 4-4-2 leaves us floundering in midfield. It's absolutely clear at the moment that Fellaini is lost big time when asked to play the centre midfield forward/creator position. Jô and Saha don?t have the energy or drive to make things happen up front and we as a team visibly weaken when the going gets tough.

With the players available to us now, the following are in my humble opinion the best teams to send out on the basis of Cahill playing or not playing:

Hibbert, Jags, Lescott, Baines
Gosling, Neville, Fellaini, Pienaar

Or without Cahill:

Hibbert, Jags, Lescott, Baines
Gosling, Neville, Osman , Pienaar

Whilst we all acknowledge that losing players of the like Yakubu, Vaughan, Saha (3 months) has caused us difficulties, all have been overcome in the long recent run by basically Cahill, and Fellaini. Losing both Arteta and Cahill is an act too far ? we cannot perform without them and Moyes needs to act in the close season to have at least one back-up ? I?d say another Arteta is a must. I?m only saying that as I don?t see another Cahill anywhere else around, he is unique.

Reader Comments

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Colin Davidson
1   Posted 21/03/2009 at 23:40:43

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Totally agree, good analysis.
Steve Ryan
2   Posted 22/03/2009 at 00:28:17

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Neville was by some distance man of the match. Further proof that Osman and Pienaar are not good enough to take us to the next level. Cahill makes the team tick. Fellaini is rapidly becoming a white elephant. The hoofball continues...
Eric Myles
3   Posted 22/03/2009 at 02:17:03

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IMHO we lost the game yesterday because of poor passing around their 18 yards box whereby when we’d built an attacking opportunity we just passed the ball straight to a Portsmouth player.

Also not marking Crouch at the set pieces didn’t help.
Lee Rogers
4   Posted 22/03/2009 at 02:30:18

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I thought all the team played under par.. Fellaini and Saha went missing and Jo should've slotted his shot into the corner but fluffed it big time. We never got enough decent crosses into the box.
Harry Charles
5   Posted 22/03/2009 at 02:55:26

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Kicked out of it!

We have had our ball-players, Arteta, Osman Pienaar and Cahill, and young players Fallaini, Anichebe and Rodwell ? kicked out of games by Newcastle, Bolton and Portsmouth... and no protection by refs. Arteta... not his main injury [accident] but many bad tackles over a time.

Vincent Siow
6   Posted 22/03/2009 at 03:50:30

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Certainly we played poorly yesterday but let?s not forget that this team has lost only twice in 2009 and despite the horrific start to the season we?re on course for the Uefa Cup. Look at Newcastle and Boro, I?m sure with another manager we might be fighting for our lives as well so let?s try to be a bit realistic and not put the boys down after yesterday?s show.

We really sorely lack a central creative midfielder, hope Moyes can address this. Someone like Diego, Moutinho, Gourcuff? I don?t think we can afford these but surely there must be some cheaper variants out there. We?ve been missing someone who can hold the ball in the centre since Mikky went out.
Steve Carter
7   Posted 22/03/2009 at 06:37:48

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Well, one thing I saw that I hadn’t before, what with Mikel’s absence, is that we’ve got someone else who doesn’t take a bad within range free kick.
Paul Connell
8   Posted 22/03/2009 at 09:33:00

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Mike, a pretty good summarisation of our problems. Without our best two players we became two evenly matched (and distinctly average) sides yesterday. It?s then just a case of who takes their chances.

We can?t really bemoan our luck any more. Injuries are part of the game. Our problem is the inability of decent (Premier League class) players like Osman and Pienaar to apply themselves admirably and and potentially shine with a full side out, but they are never going to be the class difference in tight games. We can vilify them all we like for this but it?s simply not in their locker to be ?the difference?. This doesn?t mean they are deadwood or we should sell them, they are important parts of the team/squad they just don?t have that extra class.

Of the others on the pitch yesterday I think Saha has proved he does have that extra class but was starved of service. Fellaini is not a midfielder. He may of been brought in as this but his most effective displays have been in behind the striker where his physical presence can be felt and his link play does more damage. I believe he can be the difference in shit games like yesterday but not from a central position.

We all know there won?t be much funds again in the summer. I'd be quite happy with two quality additions (loans or permanent): 1) someone capable of dictating play from the centre; 2) a quality winger. Arguments can be made for other areas of the pitch but these two have to be prioritised if we want to go to places like Portsmouth and have players who make that difference.

Rob Graves
9   Posted 22/03/2009 at 10:29:14

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With that midfield, we cannot play 4-4-2. Fellaini played as a third striker and left us woefully short in the middle, allowing a poor Portsmouth side space to dictate the game. Also, when we had the ball in good positions, our final ball wasn?t good enough.
Bob Carlton
10   Posted 22/03/2009 at 11:04:43

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A perfect analysis of our current position, which is so reminiscent of just about all our seasons when the lack of depth in our squad is so evident.
Michael Kidd
11   Posted 22/03/2009 at 11:10:20

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I agree about the final ball being poor - I saw Saha pass just about every ball he received to a Portsmouth player. Overall, however, I thought they wanted it more badly than us and that’s a pretty poor indictment. There’s not a lot one can do about squad depth and players’ talent but attitude can be improved.
Kevin Quinn
12   Posted 22/03/2009 at 15:53:07

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With the current injury situation our best form of creativity has to be down the left from Baines geting into deep positions. We didnt do that at all yesterday and over the last number of months he has been at the heart of everything good about our side. Also i feel we are our own worst enemy when teams foul us we stay on our feet and try and play on, this happened numerous times yesterday and if we had of went down we would have got free kicks in and around Pompeys box. Arteta would always win us free kicks in around the box by cutely going down and others need to grasp this as other teams do it to us as refs always give soft free kicks.
Ray Kelly
13   Posted 22/03/2009 at 17:13:32

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Osman is a passenger and should be replaced ASAP by Gosling.
Tom Owen
14   Posted 22/03/2009 at 17:51:11

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We were playing 4-1-2-3 yesterday as Fellaini was upfront most of the game. Osman and Pienaar went missing in the second half. Neville was excellent again. The goals we have conceded have all game from headers. Crouch should've been better marked yesterday by far. He was allowed to run in and leap for the ball. Hopefully they can sort out things before the Cup game.
Amit Vithlani
15   Posted 22/03/2009 at 20:22:05

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I agree that 4-4-2 without Arteta will not work. Neville is best when breaking up play and passing it simple to Arteta or, to a lesser extent, Cahill, who can go on to link up play.

The problem with the side is that we have gone back to having no pace going forward. Baines and Pienaar are fleet of foot but they are more often than not relied upon to provide the passes for others to run on to. Saha is still not at full fitness and getting through games at half pelt. Perhaps a full pre-season will see him pick up the pace.

Gosling has pace and drive but I sense both he and Rodwell were experiencing burn out in the latter stages of the Newcastle game. They need to continue developing physically.

I think the side is definitely creaking. Since Arteta?s loss the performances have not been consistent. We did Stoke over for 45 minutes but as soon as Cahill went off the second half was a non-event. The games against Blackburn, West Brom and now Portsmouth ran through a similar vein.

We have some crunch fixtures coming up. Wigan looked like a physical side today and Villa and Chelsea are in the same vein. I fear more physical bullying. Ironically, the one game where our midfield should be free of being trampled is the FA Cup Semi.....
Kevin Mitchell
16   Posted 24/03/2009 at 22:58:27

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Not addressing central midfield has been my biggest gripe with Moyes in his seven-year reign. Recent performances have confirmed central mid is definitely our weakness. It?s the one area of the team with no cover for injuries or loss of form.

We?ve seen enough of Osman this season to confirm he?s at best a bench player. As for Fellaini, I just don't know what he brings to the table except yellow cards.

A fit Arteta needs to have two strong midfielders with him to work his magic. Neville?s done well but still think he?s a right back.

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