Prior to last night’s game against Bournemouth Palace’s German international Max Meyer had failed to start a single Premier League game in red and blue but after being thrown into the starting XI by Roy Hodgson at Dean Court, how did the 23-year-old get on?
It goes without saying that the result itself was far from satisfactory for Max and his teammates, given the late penalty Mike Dean awarded following an inexplicable elbow from Mamadou Sakho but on an individual level, there were plenty of things to be positive about for the former Schalke man.
Deployed as part of a three-man central midfield alongside Luka Milivojevic and James McArthur, I had hoped to see Max used as a purely attacking threat behind the front three of Zaha, Townsend and Jordan Ayew but throughout the first half, it was difficult to judge exactly where the gaffer had told him to sit. There was one shot hit straight at Begovic from the edge of the penalty area in the opening 45 but for the most part, he floated across the park without managing to cause too many problems for the Cherries.
I should stress, his inability to make a tangible impact in the final third didn’t render him any less impressive in possession; indeed he managed to complete 53 of the 55 passes he attempted over the course of his 84 minutes of the pitch, with his 96% pass completion comfortably the highest of any player from either side. At half-time, I called for Max to be pushed higher with McArthur dropping in to cover and in spells, he did seem to be probing the Bournemouth back-line more in the second period.
In truth, the whole side emerged from the dressing room with a renewed sense of purpose after a lacklustre opening half and were rewarded when Patrick van Aanholt rocketed us level after 55 minutes. There was nothing anyone other than Sakho could have done about the penalty which won the game for the hosts but I doubt I’m alone in feeling as though Meyer’s name should be one of the first on the team-sheet when Wolves visit SE25 this weekend.
I get the impression Hodgson is jarred by the lack of size we have in the middle when Meyer, McArthur and Milivojevic are playing, with the physical power of Kouyate acting as a looming presence from the bench but against a side as technically proficient as Nuno Espírito Santo’s newly-promoted Wolves, it feels as though we’ll need to be at the top of our game to match them, regardless of home advantage.
Trust in Meyer, he’s got all the tools to help unlock teams when used correctly.