I’ve seen enough now to confirm to myself and anyone who’s chosen to read this that we are a good team. Wednesday night proved that to me. In simple terms, the league leaders, who are almost unchanged from last season in the Premier League, won through a mistake and some cheating. That’s it. We had no recognised striker on the field and were basically doing that square pegs in round holes thing, which I thought we did really well.
I’m not just basing my decision on that game though, because that would be naive and ridiculous and I hope I’m neither of those things. Yep, we’ve surprised everyone. Yep, we aren’t where we expected to be. And I for one am loving it.
Effectively, this team and everything about it is new. The formation, the statistics, the attitude, the mentality. All of it. Even in our worst games, we’ve been better than last year and probably the year before that. The willingness to believe in the system is the key and it shows in the players that have to step into unfamiliar roles (Holmes all season, Semedo v Norwich, Gibson v QPR etc).
When we’ve been at our best, we have absolutely savaged teams. Blackburn away was incredible and our first real test of the season. Bournemouth (first half only) was just phenomenal: Aluko scoring?! Shut up! Bristol City at home was another one: they just couldn’t live with us at all. And right now, there are very few teams that play football as well as us in the division, not with a fully fit team anyway. That is my honest belief.
People will argue that good teams are consistent. I agree with that 100%, I really do and that’s something we’ve got to get better at. But I’m pretty sure that having arguably three or four of our best players injured isn’t helping with that as they’ve not been able to play together. Indeed, I’d probably say we’ve only been able to field our “best 11” on maybe three occasions this year. To still be competing at the top end of the table is a credit to both the players and the staff and long may it continue.
This team is going places, I have no doubt about that. We have players playing well, we are competing well in an open division and we have sellable assets should we need to do that.
I think we are all shocked at how well this season has gone so far. I’m even more shocked I’ve been able to write an article with that specific title. A good team: who’d have thought it?