Instead of writing about the Chelsea game, where I’d be repeating the same points from the Huddersfield, Liverpool and Spurs games, I’ve chose to speak about players who have improved. These players have had their doubters and a poor spell at another club, but now have turned it around and now are seriously performing like top players.
Simone Zaza went from the laughing stock of the Euros and the Olympic Stadium, to one of the most inform players this season. It actually has astounded me how much he has improved. When I watched the Italian for West Ham, he looked a player out of his depth, a player who had poor positioning and decision making who just couldn’t shoot. West Ham decided to end he loan early and Zaza was off to Valencia, to try and safe a once great club from relegation. After scoring 6 goals in 18 appearances, Valencia decided to make that loan spell permanent and now they have no regrets. Zaza already has scored 9 goals, only Messi has scored more. He’s averaging a goal a game which definitely an improvement over his time in East London. But not only is he scoring goals, he’s also playing really well. I decided to watch Valencia play Sevilla and the highlights for thriller against Betis, to see how much Valencia have improved. Zaza was great in both games. He held up the ball well for his goal against Sevilla, while also hitting the ball perfectly into the side netting. His goal against Betis was different. He made a great run behind a tired Betis defence, and while his first touch was quite poor, his finish, again, was sublime. It seems I was wrong about Zaza as a player, and maybe it just shows how good Valencia are doing and how bad West Ham are.
Since his big money move to the blue side of Manchester, Sterling has shown moments of magic, but has failed to show consistency. But worrying enough too was his quality in the final third. He would rarely get into positions good enough to receive the ball, and if he did, he failed to take the chance. But it seems Pep’s coaching ability has finally taken its effect on Sterling, who has already scored 7 goals, as many as Lukaku and Morata. Yes the goals he has been scoring have been relatively easy to score, but he’s finally getting into these positions where he can finish these chances. But mostly he has rescued some games for City, including the Everton game where his goal saved them the point, and the Bournemouth game where his goal won them the game. He’s finally delivering on the potential we’ve all known he’s had. There were so many Man City players who could have been included here, such as Leroy Sane, who like Sterling, has improved on his positioning. Stones and Otamendi have finally created a partnership where they have some sort of understanding, and Delph is actually playing football. Pep deserves a lot of credit for improving these players, and it could be why they’ve looked so good.
Another example of a player that Pochettino has got the best out of. Davies was a fringe player, who would slot in if Rose got injured, but since Rose has came back from injury, he just has failed to get back into the starting eleven, because of Ben Davies’s incredible form. He’s been able to still add the same width that Rose has been getting so much praise for over the last couple of seasons. Spurs have such a reliance on their fullbacks as their creative force. It’s spurs’s biggest weakness and their biggest strength. Their over reliance is shown since they’ve been playing three at the back. Players like Eriksen and and Winks normally look for the run of the fullback, who will then try and get the ball in a dangerous area. Davies can now seamlessly fit in to the system now which must be a blessing for Spurs fans.
When he signed for Barcelona I did laugh. I just didn’t understand it, and I still don’t. I know I usually say money shouldn’t matter, but they paid £40m for a 29 year old. Paulinho can have the season of his life but since he’s 29 they’re only getting a good 2 years out of him. It was obvious Marco Verratti was their first choice, which makes sense considering his quality and his brilliant all around ability. But Paulinho adds something different to the team. My biggest criticism of many teams but especially Barcelona is a lack of a plan B. They have this arrogance to them where they think they can just play any team off the park. Sometimes this doesn’t work and having a different kind of player always helps. Paulinho has scored 3 goals already this season and seems to be doing excellently so far. He’s a very physical and energetic player who is a great aerial threat. Barcelona have so many pretty players its a real breath of fresh air to see a bit more of an uglier player in their team. A plan B is great to have, but their is still question marks on his longevity.