A great performance from the team and a convincing scoreline were more than enough to ensure that we have comfortably taken control of second place. Yesterday’s win, courtesy of goals by Djebbour and Aravidis, means we now have 26 points after 13 games. The three teams closest to us (Panionios, PAOK, and Panathinaikos) each have 22 points, a win for us against Panionios next week will really help take the pressure off, if only slightly.
There is only so much we can take away from our past three wins considering they have all been against teams in the bottom four, but our performances have really been showing a lot of promise lately. Its hard to pinpoint the reasons for our improvement, but I really do think a lot of it has to come down to the fact that Poyet seems to have got his tactics sorted out rather well. We lined up with a 4-3-3 over the weekend, and there were definitely some advantages to this. Firstly is the fact that our backs seem to be having a much better time making dangerous runs down the wings due to the fact they aren’t being so congested anymore by midfielders. Both Didac and Galo were constant threats down the wings and they were both able to consistently make good deliveries into the box.
The new tactics also seem to be benefiting our team as a whole as we were able to take control of the game very easily. With more players moving forward and fewer tying up the middle of the pitch, it meant that the players who were in the middle, specifically Simoes and Johansson, were able to find more space and time on the ball and were able to hold onto the ball until the right moment without feeling the need to constantly pass to the player nearest to them.
Also worth noting is Johansson and how he seems to be fitting into Poyet’s style. He was always a great midfielder when Dellas in charge, but he seems to be really shining with Poyet now. His defensive duties are just as important as always, but the way he has been moving the ball forward, often on his own, has been a really great sight to see. I always knew he was a solid defensive midfielder and had a good eye for the right pass, but we never really had the chance to see how he could make such good runs and position himself so well in attacking plays. His playing has really helped bring the team to a new level and its getting to the point now where he is contributing more offensively than players like Buonnanote.
Something else that has been talked about quite a bit lately is how the new formation seems to really be suiting Aravidis’ style of play. There was never any doubt that he was a great striker, but he was struggling to get it done all on his own up front. Now that he has been partnered with Djebbour however, we’re starting to really see what he has to offer. I’m not sure what it is exactly, but Djebbour and Aravidis both seem to be linking up together very well. They don’t seem to get in each other’s way, they’re good at supporting each other when needed, and they’re getting the job done. If Djebbour manages to stay healthy from now on (though I don’t expect that to happen), I think we can expect a lot of goals from both of them.
Poyet’s real big test comes next week when we play Panionios in Nea Smyrni. It won’t be an easy match considering Panionios are in form, but I’m probably more confident than I have been all season going into an important match. I really appreciated Dellas for all he did for the team, but I have to admit, I really like what Poyet is doing with the team. Sure, we’ve only played weaker teams lately, but the fact that we got by very comfortably against Kalloni and Panelefsiniakos shows that something is working, something is finally clicking with the team.
If only we could see the same for our basket team. They gave it a decent effort over the weekend against Olympiakos, but ultimately it wasn’t enough. The final score (79-71) was fairly respectable and I honestly believe that with a few chances, whether that be a new coach or one or two more players, we can take Olympiakos next round in front of our own supporters. We have a solid team this year for sure, but there seems to be some psychological factor thats been affecting us. The way we can go on such promising winning streaks and then slump to four losses in a row highlights the fact that something still isn’t right. I didn’t believe it at first, but I’m starting to think we’re in need of a new coach as many have been saying all season. Like Dellas, Sakota has done so much for the team which I’ll always appreciate, but maybe someone new in charge will be the change we need.
Highlights (football): http://aek365.novasports.gr
Highlights (basketball): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ztjxxao0Hng