Baptism of Fire
Well that was quite something. I guess most people expected the game to go like that. Pep is clearly building a team to emulate the great Barca team of a few years ago and with City he has been given the money to make it happen. It’s amazing to watch how quickly they get the ball back after (rarely) losing it and once they get the goal, you’re really left with little hope but chase after them, whereby they pick you off further. Stunning stuff and I have to say that all things considered, Albion did pretty well to hold them to 2-0 and give them a couple of small scares.
Time of course will tell if City are actually as good as they looked yesterday. And do we have enough to step up against lesser teams?
There were plenty of positives, not least the excellent performances of Bruno and March, which mostly nullified the threat from City’s left. Sadly, the greater threat was down the right. Defensively, we showed great discipline and concentration and but for an untimely slip during a rare excursion into the City half, we may have held on longer, but I don’t think there were many at the ground that really thought we could hold on till the end. Dunk and Duffy played their hearts out and must feel rightly proud of how long they kept City out for. And as for that ball from Dunk to Knockaert…
As for the five debutants, it was clearly a difficult start, but I thought they dropped in pretty well and will only improve. Brown looked sharp and skilful before his departure – hopefully that won’t be too serious. Ryan looks solid and quick – but seems to have an issue with balls slipping through his hands. He can’t have got to the level he has if that is a regular occurrence, so I am sure we won’t see that too many more times. Propper has come in for some criticism, but I think that is unfair. There were a few miss-placed passes, but I thought he showed enough class and determination to show that he can step up in this team. Kayal would surely have started if fit and maybe Sidwell’s experience may have been more effective yesterday – but the lad has to learn sometime and I don’t think he will have a tougher debut in his career.
Suttner worked tirelessly down the left and only really got done a few times by the classy right hand side for City. And Gross did all that could be asked and but for a slightly better timed run could well have been in for a shock goal.
Overall, Albion went toe-to-toe with probably the best team in the land and soaked up 78% possession worth of body blows and mostly stayed standing. We now have to show that we can go and hurt lesser teams – starting with Leicester next week. No problem!