Today is the turn to look at how our attacking midfielders got on in 2015/6. Let’s see who made the grade and who needs to up their game
Our major summer signing and in truth he’s the only one to really come good. Three goals in his first four games got him off to a great start and he’s netted a further five times since then. You could argue his biggest strength is also his biggest weakness, he loves to get in the box which is great when he gets on the end of things but he often fails to give us an outlet from the right hand side which we need for our system to work. But as he’s been one of our very few goal threats we couldn’t really afford to not play him for the majority of the campaign. If we get a good offer he may well move on in the summer but he would go with our best wishes.
Verdict – A
The pacey Ecuadorian wide man’s season peaked on the opening day as he tore Branislav Ivanovic apart in the 2-2 draw at Chelsea. From then on his performances dipped and his lack of defensive work saw him jettisoned from the squad early in the New Year. However Guidolin turned to him when we were trailing 2-0 at Stoke and since then he has found himself back in the first team fold. He still needs to work harder defensively but he is making progress on that side of his game. The other major flaw is his lack of goals (just two since he joined) which is nowhere near enough.
Verdict – C
It took him a while to get in the side but around Christmas Alan Curtis decided to go with our more reliable performers over the past few campaigns and Routledge is undoubtedly one of those. Solid but not spectacular is how’d I’d describe him. He’s another player who needs to chip in with extra goals – especially when he’s deployed up front when we decide the dreadful diamond should be utilised. He’s been a good player for us over the past half a decade but his influence is now starting to wane. Ideally he should be on the bench more often than not, ready to step in when needed.
Verdict – B
One of the few players who can look upon 2015/16 as a success from a personal point of view. Ever since he burst onto the scene against Arsenal in November 2014 I’ve had high hopes for big Mo. In truth he’s been very unlucky not to feature more regularly has he’s consistently made an impact when he has featured. One criticism of him was that despite his blistering pace his final delivery wasn’t good enough, but now it’s much improved. There was also an opinion that he was better from the bench than starting but he’s put that to bed recently as well. He now needs our next manager to make him first choice and he will continue to improve even more next term.
So we come to our jewel in the crown. In truth the season didn’t start that well for Icelander, he wasn’t as influential as he had been previously but his work rate was still arguably the best in the team. It took him until January to score from open play but since then the goals have flowed and he has without doubt been the biggest influence on us retaining our Premier League status. His free kicks have once again been excellent although he has yet to develop an understanding with a striker as good as he had with Wilfried Bony (probably due to the fact that none of them are in his league). Going forward it’s vital that we keep him and build the team around him to ensure our best player continues to prosper.
Verdict – A