For the first time in a while, Roma got a good win against a side in the top half of the table. Goals aplenty were scored, and there were only one or two defensive errors that made me shake my head. Given that, we’re going light on the sinners this week and heavy on the saints. Boy, is it nice for that to be the case.
I’m beginning to think I’m going to have to just stop putting Pau in the Sinners section. After a point, it’s just beating a dead horse. Even still, Pau was arguably more saved by Roma’s attacking prowess on Sunday than any actual defensive capability he showed. The Spaniard was the reason the Giallorossi didn’t keep a clean sheet against Verona, absolutely whiffing a potential save from his near post against Ebrima Colley, which is disappointing but expected once you realize the Giallorossi have kept one clean sheet all season.
The Pau Patrol is still going to be on the air until this summer, so we need to accept that Roma’s weakest spot is goalkeeper.
I miss Alisson.
Roger Ibañez did not let his embarrassing performance against Lazio dent his overall form, not one bit. The Brazilian center-back was fantastic on Sunday, getting a 7.07 rating on WhoScored and winning four aerials.
This is the kind of Ibañez we want to see—the fire to Max Kumbulla and Gianluca Mancini’s ice. Despite Roma having a relatively poor defensive standing this season, that’s not entirely the fault of the defending corps; considering that Ibañez, Kumbulla, and Mancini are all quite young, this defense also has nowhere to go but up. It’ll be fantastic to see how far these players can go.
We’re officially past the point where Borja Mayoral’s 15 million option is a fair price, and entering the space where a fee that low is going to look like a steal. Roma’s number 21 continued to show promise in this match, contributing one goal and one assist in 86 minutes and scoring himself an 8.0 WhoScored rating.
Some might say that these stats oversell Mayoral’s importance to Roma’s win, and to a certain extent, they’re right. Mayoral isn’t slaloming across the field in these performances, getting himself involved in every single attacking chance. However, he is a more mobile option than Edin Džeko, and he’s an option who seems to still tolerate his manager. I’d expect to see Mayoral continue to rack up the starts, even when Džeko is brought back into the fold. Scoring a goal every 81 minutes over the course of a season isn’t typically a fluke, and at the very least, the Giallorossi have found themselves a nice rotational scorer with room to grow into an even better player.
If half of the excitement surrounding Borja Mayoral is his future, all of the excitement around Henrikh Mkhitaryan is his present. The Armenian is on the wrong side of 30, sure, but he’s still undoubtedly Roma’s MVP of the season so far and has shown no signs of slowing down. Mkhitaryan notched his ninth goal of the season against Verona, getting an 8.15 rating from WhoScored and proving himself once again to be the heartbeat of Roma’s offense.
Roma has been at her weakest this season when the link between Mkhitaryan and Džeko has been severed; now that Džeko isn’t playing, there was certainly room for doubt that Mkhitaryan could develop a similar relationship with other styles of forward. The past couple weeks have dismissed those fears, making it clear that, for all intents and purposes, Mkhitaryan isn’t just this season’s MVP, he’s probably the best player in the squad period. Long may the King of Armenia reign.