The Arsenal game, for me, way key. Our belief and winning mentality seems to have been left at the Emirates after snatching defeat from premature jaws of victory. The players still seem rocked after being 2 ahead and losing and, mentally, look more fragile than a China vase. An antique one at that. We played very well against United but individual mistakes cost us. In the past, when we found ourselves a goal down the natural reaction was pessimism; cries of "here we go again." This recent Spurs side has fuelled desire. Belief. Conceding usual brought the players out of the woodwork and we'd battle back to victory.
But against United, after Rooney had nicked one ahead on the stroke of half time, the players looked defeated. They kept the ball well, played well, but never looked like winning. In the past we've always known that we weren't quite there. With this current side I know that the crop of players that wear the lilywhite every week are good enough to challenge the best and compete at the top level. This does lead me to concede that, at times, Redknapp has been a little naive tactically. Bale should not be given this free role. It is not utilised and does more harm than good. Benny constantly being left to defend against a right back and right winger as there is no cover in front of him. With the ball at his feet he's often forced to go long due to the lack of option in front of him. Back to basics here, Bale out left.
I'll be short with this one. Harry, if you ever stumble across this in the near future, can we please work on our set pieces? If it's not Kaboul hammering a freekick just outside the box into the nearest car park then it's a corner failing to clear the first man. Set pieces should be utilised. They should be seen as a golden opportunity. Practised. Practised. Practised. Back to basics with these again.
In recent weeks, also, Adebayor has looked a little off pace. The guy has been monumental for us. A brilliant capture. Although, of late, he's looked out of form. Saha and Defoe have looked far hungrier. If we were to stick with a 442 I'd give that pair a run out together. I do find though that, with this set up, we are not creative enough in the final third. We're not finding space and the movement isn't as clever. It was evident that we missed Rafa and that extra man to link the play in the final third today.
If we left Goodison Park today trailing 4th spot by 7 points then I would share the array of concerns that I'm reading about amongst many of you. I feel we need to look at the bigger picture and take note that we still sit third place, 4 points ahead of 4th after a tricky run of fixtures. It's hard to go the whole season without hitting some bad form and I think the FA Cup followed by a home game against Stoke may be the welcome two fixtures that the side seemingly desperately need. 2 wins and 2 positive performances going into the Chelsea game could change everything. The players just need to find that belief they had at the end of 2011 and Redknapp needs to get them hungry for the finish.
Look forward, not back.