As much as Rice is our best player, Antonio's loss is probably somewhat the more pressing, if not bigger.Aceface wrote: ↑Wed Nov 24, 2021 10:54 amIf you were making an ordered list of the parts of the squad where a long-term injury would have the most outsize impact, it would probably look something like this
Zouma (and only because Ogbonna is already out)
Central midfield hasn't come up much in January discussions but it's surely due to a bit of complacency over Soucek or Rice not being injury-prone, and an assumption that can continue. It would be dick-shrinkingly terrifying going into a three-month stretch with one of the two out, especially so with Rice.
For one, we won't be able to find the quality of Rice in the window - or maybe ever - so in terms of its impact regards to transfer discussion, it's just a task based on his quality not the hole in the team.
Then you look at cover. Lanzini can definitely play in there properly, in as much as it's his actual position. Not only that, we have Kral. It will necessitate a change in style, likely with both, but not in a way that makes us unrecognisable.
With Antonio, we don't have an alternative. All the Bowen talk is hope, he has as yet not proven himself an effective striker. There are those who think he's showing promise there, so it's not conclusive by any means. Taking their more optimistic view into account, his style of play is different too.
However, his strengths may cover that, and I do think there's something there. Not something I want to rely on for too long as of yet, but...
My main concern would be the impact on our attacking play. Bowen's our ball carrier, key to counters for us. Not only that, he's key to stopping us being countered on because he's so diligent in getting back in at pace. If Antonio is out and Bowen goes up top, it's almost like losing two key parts to our play.
It's why I've come round to Lingard. I wasn't so sure, I believed we could look elsewhere and find someone wider, but his ball-carrying is excellent and drawn into even sharper focus by how poor we were against Wolves. Lingard would have got into the middle and offered a threat with the ball at his feet on the counter. Benrahma's style isn't that, Bowen drifted out of the game entirely doing his tracking back. When Bowen isn't doing it, no one currently does.