Hugh Southon: “Irons must give support to Rice or we’ll continue to ship goals”

Declan is becoming busier and covering so much ground in front of a dodgy back four.

It’s early days but thus far I believe there are some identifiable
problems within our squad.

Firstly, Declan Rice’s position in front of an obviously dodgy back four, with a change introduced after one game, is becoming busier and busier.

The lad is covering so much ground and involved in so many tackles that he could easily – pray God it doesn’t happen – become injured at some stage.

I’m not sure we’ve seen him back to his best this season but what I do know is that his workload is becoming more and more intense and with Carlos Sanchez as the other defensive midfielder we have cause to worry.

Mark Noble’s return at Watford helped but I remain convinced a second defensive midfielder should have been signed this summer.

There may be some sort of answer by using Zaba as a defensive midfielder in emergencies but it’s an area I believe which should have been addressed.

Secondly, the midfield generally has extremely talented players in Anderson, Lanzini and potentially Fornals; Snodgrass continues to impress and Yarmolenko looks to be on his way back.

But there is a lack of pace and at times a lot of ‘fannying’ about as we attempt to break teams down nearer their box until – as we saw against Brighton – Lanzini gets on the ball. It’s something which needs work.

Then there is the question of how we failed to sign a decent left back. A new four year deal for Arthur Masuaku does – to put it politely – seem excessive.

Aaron Cresswell has been off the pace for so long I was surprised he was still around this season to be honest given I understand there was some interest from Villa.

Arthur – when on his offensive game is a handful – but few would trust him in an out-and-out defensive role and the four year deal was a huge surprise. The only half solution I can see here is maybe to slot Ben Johnson in at left back but essentially he remains unproven and would be playing out of position. Right now it looks like a possibility but it’s a precarious one.

Despite the worries I think we will be fine this season because there are clearly goals in the team, but for me that defensive midfield and left back remain pretty exposed.

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