Right, where were we? Ah yes, the season opener. Our opening day saw us welcome Everton, full of optimism and hope for this, our last season in Upton Park. Remember, no magic man Payet for this one, nor did we have Aaron Cresswell at left-back. In my desire to keep the side stocked with the most skilled players, I shifted centre-back Angelo Ogbonna over. Frankly, it didn’t end well. He was repeatedly roasted by Seamus Coleman and Kevin Mirallas, and it was all over by half-time. 3-0 Everton, and a terrible start to the season.
At least we had a nice easy game up next, a trip up to Merseyside to take on Liverpool. Having been rinsed by the blue half of Liverpool, I was understandably nervous as to what Klopp’s men could do to us. Hatches were battened down, buses were parked, and we stormed up the other end to nick two goals in the second half. Our first points of the season under our arm, we then took a little trip over to Denmark to face FC Kobenhavn. Cutting to the chase, we won 7-1 on aggregate, beating them 5-0 away.
At this point, I’m sure you’ll appreciate I was feeling somewhat optimistic. Yes, we’d struggled at home, but we beat Liverpool, and we were safely through to the group stages in Europe. This, however, is when it all went south. A visit from Newcastle left us embarrassed, losing 2-0 and lucky not to concede more in front of our own fans.
I’d mentioned in the previous post that we would be neither selling nor signing anyone, and the doors were shut. I really believed this and was all set for no business on Transfer Deadline Day. And then…
I eventually negotiated them up to thirty million pounds, and begun investigating options to buy replacements. Having been unable to find someone that jumped out to me, I decided to hedge my bets and keep Enner at the club. I felt very happy with this choice until this Twitter interaction with someone who I’m sure felt he was being very helpful:
Balls. Never mind.
Sunderland were next up in the league, and if we hadn’t beaten them I may have resigned. We conceded first, but Mr Diafra Sakho grabbed two to give us a win. Perhaps we could use these two victories to spur us on and get our season started properly, eh?
Or we could invite Arsenal to the Boleyn Ground. Four goals without response for them, excellent. We didn’t really land a punch at all, and it all made me very sad. Three home games, zero points so far.
Next was my first Europa League group game. I had hoped for an easy draw so we could sneak into the knockouts. I got Ajax, Monaco and Plzen. I’ve already mentally lost the four bigger games, but Plzen were surely there for the taking. Nope, we lost to them as well. Add onto that a depressing, if somehow encouraging loss at White Hart Lane and an early Capital One Cup exit to Aston Villa, and I was feeling very, very low indeed.
But, as the saying goes, even a blind squirrel eventually finds a nut. And boy did I find mine. The league schedule gave us an immediate opportunity to avenge Aston Villa’s league cup win over us. Our first home victory of the season came in fine style, and with Mark Noble and Pedro Obiang sat in front of my back four, the front 4 of Payet, Lanzini, Valencia and Sakho were able to rip Villa apart. 4-1 in the end, and maybe, just maybe there is light somewhere down this tunnel called football.
A few sidenotes:
– I can’t work out Andy Carroll. Playing directly to him as a target man really hasn’t worked, and he can’t play as an Advanced Forward like Sakho can. If you have any advice, please help.
– Michail Antonio is a gem. I’d expected him to be a back-up option to Valencia, but so far he’s been a bright spark on the wings, grabbing a few goals and seeming like the only danger to the opposition defence.
Next up: October/November and maybe December update, BIG EUROPEAN TOUR™, and Alex Song’s return from injury…