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Manu’s Grab Bag: Round One Even

We talk the return of La Joya, not ruining a good thing and talented youngsters.

FC Internazionale v Juventus - Serie A Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

All in all, I can’t say that Sunday night’s 1-1 draw against Inter Milan was a bad one.

Sure, it capped our streak of glorious 1-0 wins and put a bit of a stop in Juventus’ rise in the Serie A table. But you can’t win them all and, despite the fact that Inter lost so many important players of their championship-winning team, this is still a really good squad with a lot of top players. Yet, it somehow feels like a letdown after Juventus left good number of opportunities to get a massive W on the table.

Still, the team continues to show growth. While not perfect they are also far better than the way they looked when the season started. Call me a glass half full kind of guy in that sense.

Let’s cook.

Offensive Player of the Week: Paulo Dybala

After conflicting reports in the buildup to the game about whether Dybala’s injury would end up being more severe than previously thought and would cause him to miss more games, it was a big relief to see him get second-half minutes as Juve pushed for the equalizer.

But it wasn’t enough to just see him play for him to get the Grab Bag MVP points, it was how he looked when he came on and what he did on the pitch in his limited minutes that gets him the nod. Dybala looked pretty good from the moment he stepped on the pitch, leading the team in key passes despite the fact that he came on in the 65th minute.

I cannot stress enough how important it was to have a player with the skillset that Dybala has back for a team that has seemed somewhat limited in the creativity department. It was also really good to see him coming in and still displaying his scintillating early season form and not taking a couple of games to find his feet like we have seen before.

The goal from the spot to level the game was just the cherry on the sundae of good vibes by our guy Dybala. Please, stop getting hurt.

Grab Bag MVP Season Leader: Manuel Locatelli (8 Points)

VAR Controversy of the Week

From the moment I started writing this here Grab Bag, I went from being a defender of VAR to being lukewarm about it to expressing my doubts about the way it was implemented and finally a full on #AbolishVAR guy.

With all that being said, it’s still worth mentioning and acknowledging when VAR gets it right — and they did get it right this time despite whatever the people with black and blue colors in their Twitter avatar will tell you.

At the end of the day, this is exactly the type of calls that I thought VAR would be most useful when it first was implemented — tight, important calls that are too difficult to assess immediately and that any ref could use a second look at to make the right choice.

(Not the way that is actually used which has been mostly for razor thin offside calls in which the small toe of the player is marginally ahead of the defender. Or for ticky-tack, dumb handballs in which the defender is not even looking at the ball that gets shot directly into their arm.)

And, yes, it did come late in a close game which will only add to the controversy because this is how the football media works. But what is a ref supposed to do? Not call the foul just because it’s the Derby d’Italia?

Loser: Federico Chiesa, the striker

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do not like this whole Chiesa-as-a-striker experiment.

It doesn’t work. And I marginally understood why they were trying to shoehorn him in there when the striker depth was at their lowest with injuries to Paulo Dybala and Alvaro Morata and a bunh of games coming on.

And I get why they did against Chelsea because it was in a setup that was going to be exclusively about defending and counterattacking, and having Chiesa’s speed on the break was key.

But we are not in that situation anymore, Alvaro Morata is back, Dybala is back. You don’t need to force your best player into a spot that doesn’t suit him and that arguably strips away a lot of his best qualities. I know Max Allegri tinkers and that’s who he is and sometimes it produces great, unexpected results. With all that being said, this is one that is not working and that needs to end as soon as possible.

Chiesa has all the talent to become an elite player, so just let him cook and step away, Max. Pretty please.

Winner: Kaio Jorge

I honestly didn’t expect anything from Kaio Jorge this season.

He was a nice low risk, high reward summer transfer news. A young talented striker that could one day maybe be a productive player for the senior team, but that was a long shot to become a contributor early on.

He probably won’t be a huge contributor still, but I’m pleasantly surprised with his limited minutes so far, as his two showings since recovering from injury have been in two derby games. And if recent reports are to be believed the young Brazilian has made enough of an impression to dispel rumors of a potential loan deal in the January transfer window.

Allegri has a — probably warranted — reputation of not playing young players early on in their career. So, the fact that Kaio Jorge is starting to get minutes is a good indication of his standing in the club. Hey, he’s playing more than Luca Pellegrini, at the very least!

Parting Shot of the Week

In a vacuum, etting points at the Giuseppe Meazza it’s always a positive result. Especially against an Inter team that, despite their high-profile departures in the summer transfer window, is still a pretty good team and — sigh — the defending Italian champions.

For as much as we would have all loved to see them continue with their admittedly kind of funny streak of 1-0 wins, this was not a particularly poorly played match, especially in the second half and in general a decent result.

See you Wednesday.