Not only was the game tonight a good chance to field some young talent, it was an opportunity to give some of the regulars a much needed rest ahead of a rushed Christmas period.
Joel Robles- 5.5
I think Robles has got some work to do before he makes a regular spot in any team. The Spaniard looked very rusty, yet he has played most games for the U21’s in their current season? That confuses me slightly, he made a bad mistake that cost us the goal, he tried to second guess the striker's next move and before he knew it he’d left his near post open and Krasnodar were 1-0 up.
Tyias Browning - 6.5
Personally I felt Browning struggled to get going. He held himself back in fear of making an error, at least that’s how it looked. In the derby we saw him get forward consistently for the full 20 minutes he was on the pitch, tonight he got forward a lot less which was a shame as when he did he looked like he could cause a few problems.
Antolin Alcaraz - 6.5
Alcaraz didn’t do a lot wrong through the game, although he did take a little while to get going. He held his position well and supported Gareth Barry alongside him. Again, I think he was rusty but he is certainly someone we can’t discard just yet.
Gareth Barry - 6.5
This is nothing against Barry and beyond his control if you like, but I think with the amount of youngsters in the team he should have taken up his usual position of defensive midfield. If that was the case he’d have been able to have a calming effect upon Ledson and helped us go forward with more confidence. On the the whole though Barry had a solid game and kept us fairly safe at the back.
Luke Garbutt- 8.5
What an impressive performance. Not to get carried away, after watching him in the flesh at Wolfsburg I said then he was ready for first team football and after tonight I’m 100% sure he is. I think it would help Baines’ game and form if he knew he had a real serious contender for his position and I’d even suggest we started Garbutt against QPR next Monday. He took the ball forward brilliantly down his wing and got the ball into a good area 9/10. His style of corner taking was reminiscent of that of Baines and you could see how the latter had rubbed off on him in training. It would be a massive sin if we weren’t to get him signed up to a new contract.
Steven Pienaar -7
The captain on the night was another one I thought struggled to get going and appeared to be still pretty slow when on the ball, indicating he may still be a couple of games off full fitness. He linked up really well however with Garbutt and the pair were our main threat along with Arouna Kone.
Ryan Ledson - 6.5
Not to be harsh on Ryan here but I think he had a difficult game. I think Martinez made a poor decision in allowing him to be in centre midfield alone a lot of the time and again the youngster would have been aided with the likes of Barry along side him. I feel he was slightly over run because of this and we didn’t see all of what he can do. Saying that we did see small glimpses of his confidence when he was happy to be on the ball and act as a link player to the wingers. A lot more to come from him I’m certain.
Kieran Dowell - 7.5
Kieran replaced Christian Atsu eight minutes into the game as Atsu seemed to have an slight hamstring injury and was thus replaced. Another of our youngsters who made a good show of themselves on the night. I was really impressed in particular with how Dowell came on and took no time to settle in, he got forward really well and linked up also with Bryan Oviedo. I’m excited to see what else the young winger can do in the future.
Bryan Oviedo - 7
Bryan had all the work ethics and energy which we associated with him before his horrible injury back in January of last season. This was so good to see as a fan, I almost have this sense of pride to see Bryan back on the pitch and playing football again - I guess that how connected we are with our players. Oviedo ran with the ball well and got himself into some troubling positions for the Krasnodar defenders to deal with, he is ready to fight for a place in our first team once again!
Conor McAleny- 7
Conor showed some real bottle I felt, he found himself on the ball in deeper positions on the pitch than where he might perhaps be used to, but he adapted well. Another who I felt held himself back in the first half but certainly got going in the second, with driving runs past numerous players. The only slight criticism I’d have of him was on his decision making, sometimes he held onto the ball too long and sometimes he didn’t make the right pass. The silver lining with that is he has confidence in his own game to continue his run.
Arouna Kone- 8
Arouna who? Exactly! Now we know exactly who and what a breath of fresh air he could prove to be for us. He ran his legs off, he used his strength to good effect, used his pace to beat players to the ball and overall showed he is more than worthy of a place a least on our bench. I think Lukaku could help himself and pick up a few things from Kone as he progresses.
Chris Long also made a late appearance but had a good showing in the short time he was on the pitch while Gethin Jones also appeared for no more than five minutes in the match as a late substitute.
Personally, I thought it was great to watch the young players tonight, they didn’t disgrace themselves by any means and gave us a lot to look forward to in the future. If we maybe considered the positions better of our experienced players I think our younger ones may have been able to play a lot more freely. I also think with one or two more experienced players on the bench we’d have got something from the game, but it wasn’t all about the result in this particular match