We have all voiced our concerns through out the summer regarding the need to strengthen in certain areas of the squad and for the majority of the pre season this tended to centre yet again around then need for a good creative midfielder and more quality up front. While these areas were addressed to an extent, a position that was more of a late runner in terms of realising the need for reinforcements was at left back.
Having watched the turn around against Everton yesterday it was particularly encouraging to see the emergence of Zverotic as support and potentially even as competition to Riether in the right back birth. The Montenegrin displayed an ability to not only defend astutely but also had the pace going forward in an offensive capacity. On the left though Riise struggled to get to grips with the pace of Deulofeu particularly in the first half and was exposed on a number of occasions. For regular viewers this is not really news as his performances were key in both the defeats to Arsenal, where Walcott was given the freedom of the cottage on their right hand side and away at Burton in the cup, where poor marking and awareness saw the league 2 side score both goals at the back post having failed to be picked up by the Norwegian.
Debatably the best option we currently have at left full back is Richardson although his injury record does not inspire confidence that he will be a regular through out the season. Mathew Briggs has really failed to kick on from the level he was at a few years back and while another season on loan in the championship may help his development, I have my doubts over his chances of becoming a Premier league level defender. When there are three players in a squad who can play the same position then it is perhaps understandable why it wasn't priority although our failure to offload Riise and his wages during the off season when all indications were that he was surplus to requirements is most likely the main factor behind it.
We were told that Zverotic can play both Right and Left back when he joined the club which if it is the case then going on last nights performance he should be given a run out and see if he is capable of replicating his performance on the left. Amorebieta looked comfortable when he came on although from what I have seen in the past he i s very much more a central defender and should be treated as such for selection. The decline of Aaron Hughes is noticeable and the Venezuelan should be looking to establish a partnership with Brede. What is for sure is that if we are to persist with a 4-2-3-1 then we need full backs who are more than capable defensively. Riise is far less likely to get support from the likes of Taarabt or Kacaniklic if they are playing a higher line and only seems a viable option were we to adopt a flatter midfield.
The lack of consistency in selection will certainly prove a hindrance going forward if we don't manage to establish good understandings on both flanks. Towards the end of last season Riether and Dejagah seemed to compliment each other well although we are yet to really see that in action this term. The ability to overlap is key especially given our wide offensive players tendency to cut inside. While Riise is capable of getting forward at times and even running with the ball, the overlapping side of his game is found wanting and was illustrated perfectly again in the game at home to Arsenal where he found space on the left hand side only when the ball was elsewhere and on the occasions that Kacaniklic or Taarabt were looking for the overlap he was no where to be seen.
Hopefully come January a left back will be a priority and more than likely at least one of our three current options will be on their way out of the club. Further more it will be nice to have a free kick within 30 yards of goal and not have some idiot scream for Riise to be given the chance to produce a "trademark free kick" when in his time at Craven Cottage his on target ratio from set pieces made Chris Baird look like Cristiano Ronaldo.