Time for Riise to sit?

I’m not trying to make one of those posts that exist solely to generate pageviews, but I’m seriously wondering if it’s time for Riise to start the next game on the bench.

What is he offering at this point that is so unique that different looks through Briggs or Baird or Kelly can’t provide? Sure, he’s a better player than those three on paper, but consider what Rich wrote about him when he arrived:

He’s aggressive in his attacks, goes inside and outside the full-backs, and has a history of getting into the box. It’s an intriguing combination, and one that should give us our best attacking full-back pairing for a while.

Yet, outside of the first few matches where Jol tinkered with the back four to compensate for Riise bombing down the left, Riise has barely featured in our offense. Overall, his 77.5% passing completion rate is second-lowest among defenders (except Aaron Hughes) and midfielders (except Pajtim Kasami; hmm).

For someone who supposedly is the ball-crosser and attacking back, those numbers make sense. But below are the unsuccessful passes from yesterday (includes Baird UPDATE: Grygera for reference. Riise is on top).

Riise got much for forward than Baird Grygera, but completing one out of 10 crosses may is not a great stat to have (though better than Duff’s 1-for-13 a month ago).

Secondly, look at Riise’s successful passes from yesterday and last week at Stoke:

Again, he did get forward a lot yesterday, but notice where the successful passes in Everton’s third are all made from: directly on the sideline. Not once did he cut into the box for that “killer pass”. Perhaps that’s because Jol had about 9 forwards on the field already, but an attacking line-up calls for someone like Riise to show a bit a of magic. Heck, Hangeland tried it.

Um, let’s not even discuss last week. I could post more chalkboards, but going back a bit he was a marauder in our 6-0 win over QPR (as was everyone on our side), and a non-factor in the 0-0 draw with WBA. So, push?

Another facet of Riise’s game is he free-kick-taking-skills. Well, we’ve yet to score a single goal from a free kick yet (us and 16 other teams), and only have one goal from a header. HatterDon’s “View of South Texas” on FoF summed up our current position wonderfully:

Our free kicks have gone from useless to comic opera to cringe-making. Why does the referee bother making the defensive wall retreat 10 yards when we’re only going to have Murphy touch it to either Riise or Baird who will shoot with a defender 5 feet away?

Now this isn’t all on him, but taking into account the other issues it does make one scratch their head, no?

Put Briggs in on Saturday at Wigan. History dictates we’ll probably draw that match anyway.

8 thoughts on “Time for Riise to sit?

  1. I agree, but he doesn’t look fit to me.

    One thing to note: Baird played CB so Grygera would be the better comp. Seeing as Grygera isn’t an attacking player I’m not sure that’d work so well. But we expect more from Riise because of the rep and (presumably) the wages. So far, not so impressive.

  2. Agree with the fitness issue Rich, he looked like he was blowing really hard at one point yesterday. I do however think, like Salcido before him, that he suffers from the lack of consistent cover and support on that flank from Dempsey who spends a lot of time going central. Maybe it is time for Briggs to step up but I don’t think that will make such a big difference.

    We looked slow coming out again yesterday and this year Hangeland seems to be marauding forward to try and find the killer pass. Is he doing so because no one is demanding the ball in midfield anymore? Murphy also looked puffed out at times, maybe recovering from the injury, but I think we haven’t got the dynamism in midfield of previous seasons and therefore the ball goes back again, again and again, giving the opposition time to close down and our Norwegian defender the urge to go straight for the jugular.

    1. As fun as the marauding Hangeland runs are, how depressing is it that he seems to be a creative force in our midfield? A centre back should not be dictating attacking play!

      Maybe we should just chuck Hangeland in midfield with Sidwell for some random European game.

  3. I have to say I disagree with this analysis of the full back – yes the statistics suggest I higher level of wastage than seemed usual or visible during the game. I thought that Riise had an excellent first half, was constantly offering and making significant progress down the flank, so much so that David Moyes switched the offensive Royston Drenthe with the harder working/tracking back Leon Osman to contain Riise’s attacking forays around the 25minute mark. I can think of no other reason for that switch? Surely a nod to his early performance in this game?

    I think that Riise is a class act, and the best modern full back I’ve seen at the club – Briggs looks full of potential, but at this stage I prefer the experience of Riise. In an early game this season (either Villa or Blackburn), Riise was in on goal and *should have* scored. He’s hit the bar against Stoke, in another game that we could have won had that gone in. I can’t remember another full back we’ve had have this level of influence consistently in premier league matches….he’s a very definite attacking threat.

    Perhaps in response to the comment about him not coming off the flank into the centre of the pitch, we need to bare in mind that Clint Dempsey plays particularly narrow – he is very much bursting into the centre of the goal area, rather than holding a position wide. This naturally means that Riise has to remain wide.

    Personally, yesterdays game felt to me a strange one. We gave a sloppy goal away, created a multitude of exciting attacks and forays into the opposition area, we’re excellent in a lot of our play but had to contend with the mistake in midfield/excellent finish of Drente. But it felt unfair not to be at least level by half time.

    We then got ourselves back into the game through the fabulous strike, but it felt a lot of our penetration was lost through the substitution of Murphy. Not in that we missed Murphy per se, but more that our shape was unintelligible after he’d departed….surely the removal of one of our attacking players for Etuhu would have allowed us to keep our shape? It felt that we conceeded ground post substitution, and made it a bit of a free for all, whereas a solid Etuhu/Sidwell combination would’ve ensured we’d have pressed higher up the pitch and hemmed Everton in somewhat. Any of Dempsey, Dembele or Johnson could have been replaced – again no-one was underperforming particularly – but with Ruiz on we just needed a bit more competitiveness in the centre. I felt we conceded the initiative to Everton after we equalised.

    And, in the end analysis, 95% of the time we would have won the game, albeit late, and gone away happy that we’d overcome a solid, sturgy opposition with plenty of attacking craft. That we didn’t was one of those things, and we were all in disbelief when Zamora missed.

    Chris Baird’s passing from centre half was sensational – some delightful diagonals, and it adds another dimension to the teams play. It was an error by Jol to move him – Hughes should’ve slotted into the full back slot for the remaining minutes. Sidwell had another accomplished performance, and in general I thought most players played well, were committed and only looked a little ragged once we’d removed the captain and changed the shape without having a particularly discernable pattern.

    3 points at Wigan, followed by a roaring defeat of Spurs please to ease the Winter burden.

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