Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Did the Billing-Cook partnership work?

We saw a central midfield trial if you like on Saturday. Lewis Cook and Philip Billing had a run out together because Jefferson Lerma had been busy in his international week and had done a lot of air miles. Both Lewis and Philip would have known that they needed a big performance to hold on to their place next week, but I'm not sure they did enough to both stay in the team.
Philip Billing has made plenty of stars but is he dominating midfield yet?
Lewis Cook was certainly laying deeper than how I like to see him when he is in the team. Lerma does that job really well and it complements Lewis, when he can be the player further forward in central midfield. Lewis' great quality is in slipping balls in either side of central defenders for the runs of Callum or Solanke. He does his work at pace and is usually one step ahead. But playing a more defensive role doesn't always get the best out of his game I believe.
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I also tend to think Philip Billing is great one week and then slightly disappointing the next. I don't know if it is his long stride that makes it look like he doesn't quite get to players quickly enough to make the challenge, and also looks like he is simply jogging alongside rather than really hounding and forcing errors of the opposition. I know he can do it, because we have seen it in some games, when he shows a really strong appetite to get the ball off the opposition.

I'll be expecting Lerma to be getting some good rest ahead of playing a part this weekend. It is the fact that he adds solidity and a platform for others to push forward that has made him such an essential player in the middle. We need AFCB nipping at the feet of Watford players and really getting o top of them and Lerma just has that ability to get in quickly, he's just so mobile. AFCB missed that last weekend and Eddie Howe must know that.


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