Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Mepham was in the right spot

I hadn't foreseen Chris Mepham getting a place in the starting 11 on Saturday, but Eddie Howe changed the system and found a place for the centre-back. It was a bold decision and Mepham certainly didn't let the manager down.
Chris Mepham is not the goalscorer many were expecting in the first game.
The goal he scored was perhaps a typical centre-half's finish. It was a pounced on opportunity that he struck firmly and beat Henderson at his near post. Earlier in the match Mepham had been given a chance to score and snatched at it, but in the 62nd minute he made no mistake and his sense of delight that he had scored was infectious for the whole team. Mepham was on the spot at the right time, if you like, and if he can add a few goals to his game he will be even harder for Eddie Howe to ignore.

Eddie Howe has a wealth of talent to pick from at centre-back and that is only going to get stronger when Simon Francis returns. Playing three at the back is something that Howe is clearly motivated to do in some games and it does give Mepham the opportunity to come into the team and play with his laid-back style of playing out from the back. Mepham's challenge is also to make himself one of the two-centre backs when Howe decides to play as a back four.

What I can see is that Mepham is now much more of a confident player at this level. He has made some mistakes, but he has his eyes open now when he goes into games and is ready to give his all. He needed that in the first few seconds of the game against Sheffield United, when McGoldrick got the wrong side of him and got a shot off that could easily have put the Blades 1-0 up. But Mepham rushed the striker enough that he didn't beat Ramsdale and that break surely got Mepham in the mood to have a good game, having been caught out for an instance.

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