In a game where a moment of brilliance or an individual mistake was always going to be the deciding factor, thanks to Rajiv van La Parra’s sumptuous strike in the 44th minute, it was the former.
A New-Found Maturity
From minute one, the enigmatic Dutch winger looked to be Town’s brightest spark and most potent threat.
Building on an excellent performance off the bench against Manchester United in Town’s last home game, against West Brom, van La Parra pickdc up where he had left off.
There was a swagger about the Dutchman which, to those familiar with him isn’t out of the ordinary.
However, it was the substance and composure that he showed, coupled with his widely regarded flair which was most impressive.
In a first half where he was undoubtedly the stand-out performer, there was a new-found maturity about his performance.
The maturity that van La Parra demonstrated was in possession.
The Dutchman showed much more composure when he was on the ball whether that was cutting inside and opening up the pitch or if it was intricate wing interplay with the often-overlapping Scott Malone.
With van La Parra’s decision-making regularly being questioned, to his credit, the enigmatic winger made the right choices when he was given the ball.
Playing in the Right Areas
One of the reasons why van La Parra was so impressive against West Brom was that he was playing in the right areas.
Often, there is a frustration that van La Parra attempts to do too much or overplay in Town’s own final third which leads to turnover of possession in dangerous areas.
Against West Brom, the Dutch winger was playing much higher up the field and often running beyond Laurent Depoitre. This caused West Brom no end of problems.
The Dutchman was also finding pockets of space in-field, demonstrating an intelligence which could be a result of this new-found maturity.
It was this movement and intelligence which allowed van La Parra to pose such a threat and led to his moment of magic in the 44th minute.
Coming of Age
As the Dutchman continues to grow in confidence, it really does feel that we have been witness to, in recent weeks, Rajiv van La Parra’s coming of age.
It may sound rather dramatic and as a player he still remains an enigma at times. Van La Parra could easily revert back to his frustratingly inconsistent performances in a couple of weeks time.
Having said that, since joining Town, he has shown all the hallmarks of a Premier League player, except in the decision-making and end product departments.
Now that we have seen that van La Parra does have the talent and capability to be the difference, it is now David Wagner’s challenge to harness that potential and attempt to replicate it on a weekly basis.
If David Wagner sets this performance as the benchmark for the Dutchman and improves his decision-making then van La Parra, who is already one of Town’s most dangerous players could become a genuine game-changer.