October, mid October to be exact and Thomas Christiansen is searching for his strongest XI ahead of a tough week which sees us play Bristol City and Sheffield United in the league. In all honesty finding the XI is more difficult when we are getting beaten convincingly at the moment, so what should Christiansen do going forward?
The answer to the question is pretty simple, none of us know what our best side is and it needs to be found soon rather than rotating so much as we are having to do now. Kalvin Phillips and Eunan O’Kane started the season on fire but have drifted to a worrying stage where in four of the last five games they haven’t even competed, O’Kane only missing for the Cardiff City game. Even worse is that during that spell Thomas Christiansen hasn’t even subbed one of them off, he has left them on, chasing shadows and being bullied for the entire game, when he has Ronaldo Vieira at his disposal, and new signing Matty Klich who has barely had a chance. It’s very clear this needs to change, everyone apart from Christiansen can see this at the moment.
At the back you have Felix Wiedwald who has now been dropped after a poor game at Sheffield Wednesday. Apart from Samu Saiz everyone was shocking, Wiedwald wasn’t the worst but in my eyes he was the easy option to drop because the finger was being pointed at him anyway. Lonergan came in and was steady on Saturday, he needs to work on his distribution massively. Pontus Jansson and Liam Cooper seem to be the better of the pairings although they haven’t looked good recently and it leaves the door open for Matthew Pennington. We have actually looked at our best recently when Shaughnessy has started games and he will be pushing for a start if the defence can’t get to grips in the coming weeks. Luke Ayling isn’t havinga good spell but is the first-choice right-back and between Anita, Berardi and Borthwick-Jackson the left back spot has looked very poor. Anita will probably start again once fit.
Moving forward we have one nailed on place in Samu Saiz and then the debate rages on. Either side of him you have the options of Stuart Dallas, Kemar Roofe, Hadi Sacko and Pablo Hernandez. The latter had yet another woeful game on Saturday, one of many this season and Sacko arrived off the bench to replace a poor showing by Kemar Roofe. Stuart Dallas has worked so hard to get back in the plans and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Dallas and Sacko got the nod at Bristol City on Saturday. Pierre-Michel Lassoga is the only viable option up front as things stand but I think his main competition will be back soon, and that is Caleb Ekuban who impressed hugely before injury.
So many options, but finding the best is tough and so crucial. TC has his work cut out at the moment.