Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Brad Smith deserved his run out

Many fans were surprised to see that Charlie Daniels had been left out of the team for the Arsenal match, but he was unavailable apparently because of a hip strain. That meant the gap at left back could be filled by Brad Smith and this was the first chance for many AFCB fans to see Brad unless they had seen him in the English Football League Cup against Morecambe or Preston North End.

Brad was jumping in at the deep end with his Premier League debut for AFCB at Arsenal, but his experience as an ex-Liverpool payer stood him in good stead. He was well prepared and I felt he had a reasonable game and almost got on the score sheet towards the middle part of the first half, when he forced Petr Cech to make one of the few saves he was called into action for.
Brad Smith warms up before the Arsenal game.
While the pace at which Charlie Daniels plays is a real adrenaline buzz for the team, it is hard for another player to come in and have the same impact overnight. Brad was pretty composed though and did not give the ball away that often. Following the slow introduction of Nathan Aké and now Brad Smith, there are signs that Eddie Howe is looking more closely at the larger squad to play in games and I wonder if we might even see Tyrone Mings before too long. While Brad has had to be patient to get his chance, Tyrone has also been through a lot.

The changes have not been something that Eddie Howe will have wanted to have to do as the back four is one area of the team where confidence and reliability is usually built up by players being consistently picked and knowing each others game. It is just that part of the season where suspensions and injuries start to accumulate and the squad is being fully used now. Whether Brad carries on in the team will be a talking point for Sunday's game as he would certainly be keen to play against Liverpool you'd think. Whether that extra excitement for him is something that will give him the shirt is unlikely if Charlie has recovered from his hip strain. I'd imagine that it would be hard for Brad to miss out though so he will be giving it everything in training this week.

Getting a clean sheet against Liverpool will be just as hard as achieving that against any f the other top six sides and Eddie will be having to think hard as to what his best options are now. 

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