After a comfortable win in the end would you say Barkley effectively with two number 10s was the reason for the success?
SAM: Barkley was better than normal, I am willing to admit that. However, I don’t think the outcome of the game would have been any different had Kovacic or Kante played instead. He only created 1 chance which is nothing special for an attacking midfielder. It was nice to see him have a good game but I don’t see him nailing down a first team spot any time soon.
After another great performance from Hudson Odoi on the right, would the emphasis for a left footed winger be less important now?
SAM: The combination of Willian on the left and Hudson-Odoi on the right worked well today. Hudson-Odoi can cut in on head for the by-line, and create chances from both. If Hudson-Odoi can keep this up then there’s no need to look for other wingers. Besides, there are other parts of the squad that need more urgent remodeling.
What did you make of Christensen’s performance?
Christensen was solid today. I thought he would struggle to cope with the physicality of this Burnley side but he proved me wrong. He won most of his duels, was good on the ball and was pivotal to the clean sheet. The combination with Rudiger worked very well.
Is Kante becoming a less important figure in this team or is it just a dip in form?
I think Kante is less vital to making this system work then he has been before. Take Conte’s 3-4-3 for example, without Kante we wouldn’t have won the league that season. Playing alongside a pretty immobile Matic, a player with an engine like his was vital. Now with 3 midfielders he is not as key to success. However, a player as versatile as Kante is going to make himself useful in any system and has proved many times this season that he is world class. He’s definitely not tailing off that’s for sure.
There seems to be a lot of rotation at Left back between the three players. Who’s your strongest LB in the squad?
With Emerson’s dip in form and Alonso’s inability to defend I think the best full back pairing going forward is Azpi and James. Azpi is old but defensively solid and his lack of attacking ability is more than made up for by James. He proved again today that his crossing is top notch with another assist. So to stick to the question, I think Azpilicueta is the best LB in the squad.
Finally, which positions are you targeting for the remainder of the window as positions to improve upon?
A back up striker is what we need. Batshuayi’s woeful performance against Nottingham Forest really put into perspective how much trouble we would be in if Abraham picked up a big injury. Yes he’s a fun player to have around but he really isn’t Premier League quality. Giroud has also seen better days and it appears that we would be happy to let him go if we could bring in a replacement. Other than that, an elite, top tier defender would be nice. A leader who could bring so stability to the back line.