Season 2021/2022, From Bad to Worse Against Watford

While there appeared to be some justification for our Villans to lose against Newcastle in St. James Park, to lose to a Watford team with no wins in two months, and in our home stadium, was a stunning failure and quite an embarrassment for Steven Gerrard, the new manager who was supposed to lead us out of mediocrity.

The combined losses suggests that no team in the Premier League needs to feel intimidated by our claret and blues and all will see a fixture against us as an easy three points.  Everton must be ruing their luck that they missed this party, thanks to bad timing.

If we look to where we were last season, after 24 games we had 40 points.  If we had 40 points today, we would be in 7th position (ahead of Wolves on goal average, having 37 goals for and 26 against, and a game in-hand).

Our current goals for and against are a sad 31 for and 37 against.  The failure to keep clean sheets is a problem.  This time last year, we had 12 clean sheets compared to only 5 this year.  Of course, that was with Jack Grealish.

That is largely a result of our former talisman being able to hold the ball when we had the lead and, when necessary, draw a foul by a frustrated opponent.  What the team also lost was his pervasive cockiness that convinced his teammates that every game was winnable.

Since rolling back the clock is not an option, what strategies can work?  Dogged defense is a start.  That suggests moving Chambers into Luiz’s slot while bringing Ezri back to partner Mings.  Chukwuemeka may be a better option than Buendia in that he may have more success in holding the ball.  Then, make sure that Ollie Watkins wins more of the duels for possession by making more of the right kind of passes.

Of course, when we do lose possession, we must get as many players as possible behind the ball.  Coutinho will have to replace Grealish.  When we get the lead, he has to be the go-to guy who can maintain possession and inspire his teammates.

Of course, someone else might rise to the occasion (perhaps McGinn or, even, Chukwuemeka) because we cannot be relying on one player.  Remember where that got us last time!

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