What a difference 90 minutes can make. After the defeats – and performances – against Wolves and Spurs, I wasn’t feeling confident of us getting anything from Chelsea.
In a roundabout way these games showed progress – you could argue our performance against Spurs was better than the one against Wolves and our Chelsea performance was better than both. If you looked at these first three fixtures before we returned, you’d maybe see three points as a good return.
The other thing to keep in mind is while we only picked up three points from these three games, the other sides around us weren’t able to get points either. We’ve got Norwich, Watford and Villa to play now so on paper our survival is in our hands. The likes of Villa and Bournemouth have got tough run-ins so if we can aim for eight points this month then I think that will most probably keep us safe.
The standout player for me from the first three games back was Declan Rice – and it was great to see him captain the side against Chelsea. I thought he led the troops well and I thought his display showed how much his game has developed recently.
It’s good to see his game developing and changing, and now he’s realised he can drive forward with the ball or take a risk on a forward pass to try and unlock the opposition. I have been watching quite a lot of the games and I’ve been watching them with the crowd sound on, which has helped.
But it has made me chuckle when the person operating the buttons pushes one too late – like after a shot has just gone wide but you don’t hear the crowd noise until the keeper takes the goal kick! I said before that I wasn’t sure what the standard of football would be once the Premier League restarted and I don’t think it’s quite reached the same level as pre-lockdown.
But every game that’s played the intensity and the speed of the game increases. I reckon it’ll take until the end of this month for the players to reach full fitness.