If someone had offered us seven points from our games against Liverpool, Wolves, Man City, Brighton, and Chelsea we’d probably have thought that wasn’t a bad return. We may have taken them up on it, but to have started that run of games with a win against Liverpool, we would’ve been hoping for more against Wolves and Brighton before taking on an in-form Chelsea.
The Brighton game was gutting and deflating, and I think it’s because they scored so late on. If they’d scored earlier in the second half, which they had threatened to do on a few occasions, I think a draw would’ve been a fair as they did have their chances and dominated spells of the game.
But it’s conceding the equaliser so late on that hurts – it was a good finish to be fair. The VAR decision in the Brighton game went on forever and a day. It took so long that you felt like they were looking for a reason to disallow it rather than allow it.
I’m sure there were plenty of fans thinking: ‘Hurry up, I’ve got a train to catch’. Hopefully we will get one of those decisions go for us again soon. I do think though, had it gone our way at the start of the second half, it would’ve given us a cushion and maybe would’ve dampened Brighton’s spirits.
It did feel like one of those nights where you felt like it wasn’t going to be our night. Last season we had games where we didn’t play well but managed to find a way but things do tend to even themselves out and the Brighton game was the reverse of that.
We didn’t play as well as we would have liked and Brighton dominated spells in both halves – the goal just took longer to come than everyone thought. There would’ve been a few fans wanting to press the panic button after our performances and results against Wolves and Brighton but yet again, we bounced back and got a terrific result against Chelsea.
The positive heading into that Chelsea game was that we were on our worst run for a while but were still in the top four. And now we’re back on track again. It really does change that quickly in football. There was no need for anyone to panic.
December is going to be a big month for us. It was a huge bonus that we are already through to the Europa League last-16 as this will give game time to those who haven’t been in the first XI lately. This is key leading up to the Christmas period where you have to change players whether you like it or not because of the sheer amount of games.
We’ve also got the quarter final of the League Cup this month and I’m hoping we really go for it. It’s going to be a cracking game and it would be wonderful to go into the New Year with a semi final of a major cup to look forward to as well as being in the last 16 of the Europa League and we’ve got the FA Cup to come as well.
The difference between the Liverpool and Brighton games were probably the VAR decisions and also how much deeper we sat against Brighton because of how we were playing. Against Liverpool and Chelsea, they had a lot of the ball but we didn’t sit off them as much as we did against Brighton, and we were much better with the ball going forward.
If we can get on a good run now, the points are really going to start to build. Before you know it, even though we have had a bit of a blip, we could still be in and around the top four looking upwards at Christmas, rather than looking over our shoulders.
Antonio hasn’t really seen much of the ball recently. He has appeared a bit isolated up top at times and then when he does get the ball, he sometimes tries to do too much with it. It would’ve been written in the stars for him to have not scored for a while and get awarded the goal against Brighton.
At the end of the day, it would’ve said he scored. Not how he scored, just his name on the scoresheet and that could have made a big difference in his confidence. Even though he hasn’t been injured yet, I do still think we need backup for Antonio.
If there’s money available, it’s going to be interesting to see how David Moyes uses it. We’re lucky in the sense that all our squad have been getting game time thanks to the Europa League and the League Cup but with the injuries we now have at the back, you wonder if we will look to get reinforcements there in January.