It was a solid more than spectacular at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday as we managed to squeeze past Wolves to secure our place in the fourth round draw for tonight. Jelavic’s cool finish after Carroll’s flick was enough to see off a Wolves side that were off the back of three straight wins since Christmas and another clean sheet was very welcome to add to the unbeaten streak we are currently on.
The draw takes place tonight on The One Show on BBC One.
Bilic is clearly taking the FA Cup seriously
Slaven Bilic said before the game that he wants a cup run, and is making the FA Cup a priority. His starting XI was evidence of this. Randolph, Jelavic and Jenkinson may have all started, but played well and showed what they can bring to the side. Jelavic lacked support in the game, he was isolated and didn’t offer too much until Carroll came on. In fairness, he took the goal superbly and proved Bilic’s faith. Bilic may have made six changes to the starting line up, but he didn’t play inexperienced players and made sure the team had enough to win the game.
He brought on Payet and Carroll at the right times, easing Payet back from injury but making sure his team had the best possible chance at getting a winner. It is testament to Bilic that he left Jelavic on, when Carroll came on alongside, as the Croat was the most likely to come off.
The clean sheets don’t look like stopping
No Adrian, Tomkins or Ogbonna but we still made defending look easy. Bilic started Collins and Reid at the back, and both of them were in with a shout for man of the match after great individual performances. Starting Collins was a good move, because he is in fantastic form at the moment, so there is no need to drop him. Reid came back from injury and looked like he hadn’t been away. Credit to Jenkinson who can use the 90 mins to increase his confidence after an impressive defensive display and Cresswell who always impresses. Randolph filled in for Adrian well, but I don’t think the Spaniards place is in jeopardy at the moment.
3 defensive midfielders isn’t working
A big issue at the weekend was Bilic trying to use three defensive midfielders, particularly while Lanzini is out of action. We saw it against Southampton, when Song was playing further forward and looked lost before being substituted at half time, and it was the same again, they just don’t look comfortable as a three. There is a lack of support to the striker, and we don’t have the same fluency in attack. Payet came on for Noble after 67 minutes, and balance seemingly came back to the team and we went on and won the game. There is a lack of options at the moment through injuries, but we can’t keep trying this against teams like Wolves where we don’t need 3 of them in the middle, we need more going forward.
Zarate not his best at the moment
It’s fair to say Zarate isn’t performing at the moment, in early December he was one of our best players who looked like he was gonna have a great season, but in the last month he has been struggling for form. The problem with Zarate is that when he isn’t in form, he brings nothing. He has too many wild shots from anywhere that never really look like threatening, and he doesn’t release the ball at the right times. The talent is undeniably there, but he seems to believe that he is the best player on the pitch, which is understandable if you’ve just won the game for your team, but he should be coming out and proving his worth in these games against opposition that he should be thriving against.
We were far more dangerous without Zarate, which shouldn’t be the case. There are rumours that he could be sold in the next few weeks. If it meant it would make funds available for a big signing, then it wouldn’t be the end of the world. However, Zarate is an exciting player who has scored some great goals for us this season. Many media outlets are claiming he could be let go for £3.5 million, which would be ridiculous for a player of Zarate’s talents.
Obiang stakes a claim in starting XI against Bournemouth
Obiang was good when he came on against Liverpool and continued this form against Wolves with a mature performance. He was the probably my man of the match, and has staked a claim to start against Bournemouth tomorrow night. Obiang has been a bit hot and cold since he joined in the summer, but had a real effect against Wolves and looks like he could a real player for us in the next few seasons.
Antonio also continued his fine form, and is becoming one of the first names on Bilic’s team sheet, Carroll made a real impact and looks like he is finally returning to the type of player that will cause problems for defenders from the bench or from the start.
Let hope for another home tie tonight, and see how far we can go in this years competition!