Well, we hit the halfway mark. And its been underwhelming. We sit, deservedly, at 29 points. A full season of 58 points would have put us 6th, 8th, and 7th in the last three years. In other words, on the fringes of the Europa League. We absolutely need to do better this half.
Yes, we have undoubtedly improved and there is some real reason for optimism. But alongside our incredible highlights (beating Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Juventus…. go back and read those three again. Yeah, all of those things happened.) We’ve also had some truly low, lowlights (losing to Las Palmas and Granada, and failing to even show up versus Juve). We’ve had a stretch of great home form, but if you’ve watched the games closely they haven’t always been completely convincing. Call me a cynic, but this team just hasn’t won my trust yet this year. Every time I think we have turned a corner we suffer a setback.
The inconsistency has undoubtedly been at the team level, but you have to feel a bit badly for Emery given the inconsistency and unavailability of many of the team’s most promising players. While Gameiro now appears white hot, he had a cold patch early on. Llorente had a few nice games but has been largely ineffective. Nzonzi has been capable in some games and poor in others. What can you make of Konoplyanka single-handedly beating Barca but invisible against so many other weaker teams?
Hopefully things are stabilizing a bit as we get our backline incrementally healthier (welcome back Carrico!) and health is also resembling mid-season acquisitions in the midfield in the form of Cristoforo and possibly Kakuta.
It still seems we need someone who can play the AM role for times when Banega needs a rest. Personally, I’m very happy with Munoz as our third striker, but it is true that we would be one Gameiro injury away from disaster.
Meanwhile, after starting the season horribly, Malaga have improved considerably undefeated in their last seven La Liga matches and collecting 15 out of 21 possible points. They trail us by only five in the table.
The good news is that Malaga are coming to the RSP to kick off the second half of the season. This will be a very challenging match but one we must win. If we are going to recover in the standings we need to knock off not only the softer opponents but the more challenging ones as well and given Malaga’s recent form we should expect a very stiff challenge.
Let’s get it done. Vamos!