We headed into the international break on a good note with a resounding comeback victory against Brentford. We come out out of the break with a familiar post-international break feeling; a home defeat with limited creativity.
4 points from 5 games isn’t a good start to the season.
Home Form Is a Concern
Back to back to back 1-0 defeats at home to start the season isn’t good. Over my lifetime as a North End fan our home form has always been something you can rely on. Even last season it took until December 2nd before we lost our first game at Deepdale to West Brom and even that was an undeserved defeat.
This season we’ve already succumbed to Swansea City, Stoke City and now Cardiff City. The Stoke game aside as we were (wrongly) down to ten men, we haven’t put up much of a fight in those games after we’d gone a goal down and it’s definitely a concern.
Lack of Creativity
A recurring theme is our lack of creativity. When on the ball we struggle to make any openings and rarely look like opening a team up. Against Cardiff, it was mainly long balls into the box especially when Jayden Stockley and Emil Riis were on the pitch.
The midfield trio offered little and Brad Potts and Scott Sinclair struggled to stretch the game out wide. We never looked like scoring in all honesty. It would have taken a moment of magic and we lack those moments. They are few and far between. It often feels like any confidence is completely sucked out of the team as soon as we go a goal down.
DJ and Harrop Should Have Been Involved
If DJ was fit he should have been playing. Of course, the team that started against Brentford had earned their chance to play again but Johnson was our best player last season. We’ve missed him already and if there’s one man in our squad who can give us that ‘Je ne sais quoi’ it’s him.
Nothing was happening on Sunday afternoon and we needed his creativity to unlock the Cardiff defence because nobody else seemed capable of that. Harrop is another player who can provide that spark but he has yet to feature this season. He’s been given a new contract so he has to be in Alex Neil’s plans, right?
Stockley and Jakobsen on the Bench?
Do we need them both on the bench if it means Harrop is missing out? We only play with one striker so do we need to have two on the bench.
Our midfield is extensive and we have plenty of options to choose from. If Billy Bodin and Josh Harrop aren’t even in the squad then it shows we have some depth but perhaps Alex Neil needs to choose his substitutes more carefully.
Either way, it didn’t work against Cardiff and the subs didn’t change the game.
A Win is Needed
Two away games are coming up for North End against QPR and Huddersfield Town. We need at least 3 points from them. A number of teams have made promising starts and if we want to have a serious chance of a top 6 position, in my opinion, we can’t be letting these teams get too far away from us.
We have had a tough start but zero points from our home games thus far is worrying. QPR have made some good signings but I would still expect us to take at least a point from them and probably three from Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.
We’ve held onto the big 5 now let’s make the most of them. It’s time to get some points on the board.
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