Apologies for my lack of posts over the last few weeks but I was without internet access, that problem has now been resolved and I hope to get back to regular posting.
Now here we are after 8 games in La Liga and 3 in the Champions League still unbeaten. If I was offered that at the start of the season I would have snapped it up. We are only 2 points off the top of La Liga and we are in with a chance of qualifying in first position from our group in Europe. All of this despite not having a full squad for all but 1 game this season. It is a very nice position to be in. Lets just take a brief look at how the different areas of the team are doing :
Defense : Diego Lopez will be disappointed to have conceded 7 goals in 2 games but there was little he could do to prevent them. He has been absolutely brilliant so far and has produced some world class saves including an excellent penalty save against Espanyol. Gonzalo and Godin have recently been offered lifetime contracts by the club and until then had been pretty flawless too, we will write off the previous two defensive displays and to be fair Fuentes was at fault for a lot of the goals versus Aalborg. Javi Venta and Angel are involved in a battle for a starting spot. Angel seems to have recovered some of his Celta Vigo form and has provided several assists thus far. Javi Venta has for the most part been solid as usual but struggled to control Simao at the weekend. Capdevila went through a bit of a slump for a few matches but with that screamer he scored the other week seems to be playing a bit better.
Midfield : The injury to Sebastian Eguren is very unfortunate, himself and Senna have a great partnership but now the likes of Edmilson and Bruno will have to step up until Christmas. Senna has been showing why he's one of the best in the world. A couple of match winning freekicks and a host of commanding performances have shown why he is so valuable to Villarreal. We are still waiting for Ibagaza to truly find his form, he has been solid but a few niggles have prevented him reaching full fitness. There definitely is a place for him in the side though. Pires at 35 is still producing the goods, was excellent in the two previous games and hasn't shown any signs of slowing down. A vital player for us. Santi Cazorla has been our best player so far, his confidence is sky high and he has caused problems for every team we have faced. He has also found a place in the national side which can only make him improve. Now I come to Mati Fernandez and Cani. They simply have not been doing it, Matias is being played out of position and he obviously doesn't enjoy it, with the Chilean national side he plays in a central attacking role and he has been playing superbly in their World Cup Qualifying games(including a fantastic display in their win over Argentina!) but he struggles to reproduce this form in Villarreal where he is always stationed out wide. As for Cani. I am beginning to have my doubts if he is good enough for a team like ours.
Forwards : The continued absence of Nihat has left the pressure on Joseba Llorente to get the goals but after a slow start he looks to have now found his touch. 4 goals in La Liga and 3 in Europe leave him with a healthy tally and I think we can expect more from him. Rossi has been in and out of the side because of injury but he has notched up 3 goals and recently made his debut for the Italian senior side. He is a great talent and will only get better. Guille Franco is still working away, you cant deny his heart and he always gives 100%. Altidore has not had much chance to show what he can do, two substitue appearances are all he can boast and I really do expect him to go out on loan in January barring another injury to one of the other strikers.
Overall the team is functioning well but I wouldn't say we've hit top form yet. There are some tough games coming up, the visit of Man United especially. They are hitting top form and will be much more of a threat than the one we faced in Old Trafford. Barca are also playing some lovely stuff and they too will be very dangerous. Just briefly on the 4-4 result the other day : Now thats more like La Liga!