Friday, 21 September 2012
Is It Time To Reassess Our Striking Options?
Going into this season it seemed pretty clear that Tevez and Aguero was going to be our front line of choice; the understanding they demonstrated at the back end of last season was very impressive, and whilst I wouldn't go as far as to say the return of Tevez propelled us to the Premier League title, it clearly had an impact, regaining a player of that ability would be a boost to any team. Outside of those 2 however things are a bit more unclear.
After Aguero went off early in our first game against Southampton, the 2nd striking spot become up for grabs. It was Edin Dzeko that got the nod on that occasion and he marked it with an important goal, despite this however it was Mario Balotelli that was favoured in the intervening weeks. He started at Anfield and was largely ineffective, in fact when he was replaced by the Bosnian on the hour mark we began to look a lot more threatening. On the back of that Dzeko started the following week at home to QPR, now despite the odd mistake he got on the scoresheet again and went very close on another couple of occasions; despite adding his 2nd goal of the season, it was the goal less Italian that was restored to the starting line up for the trip to Stoke. Again he struggled to make an impact on the game, and even though he was only given a couple of minutes on the pitch, Dzeko was only denied his 3rd goal of the season by a miraculous goal line clearance.
It therefore surprised me going into the Real game on Tuesday evening that people were questioning the absence of Balotelli from the squad. There was only space for 2 forwards on the bench, clearly Aguero was going to make it in case we were really in need of a forward, and therefore I ask why would the Italian be picked over the Bosnian?
I don't want it to appear like I am getting on the back of Mario Balotelli, he has demonstrated that he is a player with huge amounts of potential, and that is the key word, potential, he isn't even close to being the player he can and hopefully will be. After an excellent European Championships where it appeared he had finally thrown away the histrionics, and where he was scoring spectacular goals on a regular basis it was pretty clear that he would begin the season as our 3rd choice, but something now doesn't seem right about that. He simply hasn't made an impact so far this campaign, and granted it is only early days and I am not writing him off, but I do feel it is time for him to sit out a few games while Dzeko is given more of a crack of the whip.
Despite scoring 19 goals last season including one on the final day against QPR, our supporters have never totally taken to Dzeko and he has been openly criticised by some, but yet we have a tendency to worship Balotelli (17 goals) as the 2nd coming. Obviously as supporters we do like Mario because of his antics, he's a story and he is funny, whilst Dzeko is more of an easy target because of his semi regular mistakes on the field and his somewhat questionable technical ability. In terms of a striking comparison though the goal scoring records speak for themselves.
Whatever it is that Mancini doesn't like about Edin I am unsure, he clearly has a very close relationship with Balotelli, but i'd prefer it if he focused on what was best for the team and at this point in time it would be to field Dzeko ahead of the erratic Italian. It is pretty evident that he is a confidence striker, he started last season like a train, but then for no real reason he found himself benched and from that point he never managed to get himself back to his early season form. After he notched his 3rd of the season against Madrid on Tuesday I would find it farcical if he continues to be overlooked.
There are weaknesses to his game I will hold up my hands and admit that; but he scores goals, something that at the moment Balotelli is failing to do. With Aguero's likely return on Sunday, both forwards will be on the bench, but I hope it is Dzeko that gets a 30 minute run out as opposed to Mad Mario because he is quite simply in better form at the moment, and surely that is the crucial factor at this time.