With just 5 goals and 3 points in their first 6 OBOS Ligaen games, FK Jerv are struggling to live up to the expectations placed on them after brilliant 2015 and 2016 seasons. In the 1-1 draw against Arendal last week it became clear that their misfiring front line was one of the main reasons why the sides' 2017 season has yet to really get started, but was a positive second half enough to convince fans that promotion could still be an achievable target this year?
If Jerv's current goalscoring plight continues they will be on course to score just 25 goals all season. Compared to the 47 they scored in 2016 and 2015 this is quite the drop off and whilst one would expect the side to score more than 25, it is hard right now to tell where the goals will come from.
The key difference between this season and seasons past is the clear lack of a talisman in the Jerv side. Ohi Omoijuanfo supplied 15 goals and 7 assists in 2015 whilst Tonny Brochmann delivered 9 goals and 6 assists for the side in 2016, in 2017 it is currently hard to see where this type of goalscoring return will come from.
A lot of pressure was placed on Erixon Danso to succeed after his signing from FC Stal Kamianske in Ukraine. The Aruban international had previously delivered both goals and assists in stints with Emmen and Dordrecht in Holland, but has yet to really settle into life in Grimstad.
There have been glimpses into how good Danso can be, especially yesterday against Arendal where after entering on the 60 minute mark the player proceeded to add a whole new dimension to Jerv's attacking game as he adopted a position similar to ones held by both Ohi and Brochmann in their previous stints with the club.
Danso's fitness has been a cause for concern for Jerv boss Arne Sandsto but with the player now starting to settle, he could still become a key attacking outlet for the side across the
of the season. There is no doubt that Danso has the ability to supply at least 10 goals and 10 assists across a 30 game season, but settling in to his new side has delayed this process slightly.
What could have been for FK Jerv, both Tonny Brochmann and Ohi Omoijuanfo are having impressive seasons in the Eliteserien with Stabaek.
The match also went to highlight the indecisiveness that currently defines Jerv's attacking play. Twitter was awash with fans of the side yesterday criticizing the players over their lack of a killer ball in the final third and this issue was especially evident in the first half of the game with Jerv dominating the ball but creating very little in front of goal.
Often, the ball would fall with one of Andreas Hagen, David Akintola or Ulrik Berglann in the final third of the pitch but due to either a lack of movement ahead or general individual indecisiveness the ball never really made it's way past the Arendal back four.
It is hard to really put a finger on why one of the formerly most effective attacking teams in the league have suddenly become one of the least effective, but striker Alex Lind's form is a cause for concern for everyone at the club.
Lind has never been a 'prolific' striker at this level but has always given 100% in his play and is a great player to have up front as he can bring in others around him to create goalscoring opportunities. This season, however, something has seemingly happened to the players' confidence and he does not look as assured in himself as he did in the 2015 OBOS Ligaen season which saw him return with 10 goals and 2 assists in 29 games.
Illness and injury marred his 2016 campaign but Lind still delivered at crucial times, and managed 5 goals and 2 assists from 18 games (11 starts) last season. Against Stabaek in the play off final, Lind showed that he could also play the role of a target man effectively as he worked tirelessly to chase loose balls and try and create attacks from Jerv's long balls. Manager Arne Sandsto did however make it clear that he wanted to look for a new forward before the start of the 2017 campaign, but when this search proved unsuccessful, Lind was once more the club's only viable option up front going into the season.
Alex Lind in action against Brann in the 2015 season, arguably the players' best season of his career so far.
Alex Lind's positional map against Bryne in 2016 (above) and against Strommen in 2017 (below) can be clearly compared and contrasted. Lind is coming deeper to receive the ball this season, despite playing as a 'pure forward' last year. He is also touching the ball in the box a lot less, could this be a tactical ploy from boss Sandsto or the players' own lack of confidence in front of goal becoming more obvious?
Lind is simply not getting in the same dangerous positions as he has done in seasons gone by. Whether this is due to a lack of personal confidence or a lack of confidence in him from his fellow attackers is unsure, but you can bet that Lind will now want to build on his goal yesterday against rivals Arendal. Jerv fans will be hoping it can kick start a mini revival for the striker who has served them so well in recent seasons.
There is no doubt that Jerv's start to the season has been very much below par, but at the same time the signs are there that a revival could be on the cards soon. Lind's goal and Danso's great second half performance against Arendal could kick the side into action, with both players likely benefiting from a slight boost in confidence after the game despite the end result.
The problem now for Sandsto is finding a way of including Danso and Lind in his lineup, whilst also playing regular wingers Berglann and Akintola. Sandsto has stayed loyal to a 4-3-3 formation for much of his tenure as Jerv manager but a 4-2-3-1 formation could be on the cards in the near future, with Berglann playing LW, Akintola RW, Danso AM and Lind in ATT. It is the one formation that makes sense on paper, but could well cost the side a certain level of defensive certainty with the lack of numbers in midfield.
The draw against rivals Arendal may have been disappointing for Jerv, but there were a lot of positives to take from the second half performance. FK Jerv like to surprise and you would not bet against them doing just that once more in 2017 and mounting a push for the top 6 despite poor early results.