Our problems in the defeat to Arsenal were sparked in the wing-back positions, and the more I see Aly Cissoko operate there the less I’m happy with it. I wouldn’t play him there again. I didn’t think he was comfortable there against West Brom despite the good result and even less so against Arsenal. His control isn’t there or his first touch, he can’t get past a player from a standing position and he doesn’t have the intelligence to follow the fluency of play. These are things so crucial to playing in that position.
I have no problem with the system but the wing-backs can either make or break the effectiveness of it, they have to be able to beat full-backs, be good at getting forward and equipped at getting crosses in. It’s important to take people on, force them back and ask questions in their half of the pitch. You sometimes have a bit more freedom as a wing-back but your control, movement and intelligence has to be immaculate on the move, it’s no good getting into good positions in the final third and then putting a cross straight into the arms of the keeper.
I look at the two full backs at Swansea, they are constant influences on a game, Glen Johnson and Jose Enrique are too when they are on song, without them, that formation struggles. Defensively with three centre backs against one up front, good midfields will bomb on against you and turn you into a flat back five. Against better sides away from home it is going to be difficult with that formation, against lesser sides at home you should win comfortably.
Arsenal’s movement was very good all over the pitch and they could have had a few more goals, the positive is that we didn’t give it up and Brendan Rodgers was bold enough to change it about a little bit in the second half. In the first half our support to the front two wasn’t good enough, at the Emirates you have to go and be comfortable on the ball, it is the only way you can bring other players into the game and when things went wrong we resorted to knocking long balls too often. Our chances to break on them only really came from one of their misplaced passes.
The manager won’t have too much of a job lifting his side for the Fulham game, they will have known before the Arsenal trip that after their two defeats at home to Dortmund and Chelsea they will have wanted to stop the rot, they have so much experience on how to keep hold of the ball, especially on the edge of their own box and dominate the midfield. The positive is that we didn’t give up and even at 1-0 and 2-0 the game wasn’t over and when you have that belief in a side that you can change a game on one moment, it can only be a sign of progression.
Jimmy Case was speaking to BBC Radio Merseyside.