The Eddies have only played three league matches since the league kicked off. To put it in perspective, there are four teams who have played at least five matches CPL matches already.
Some of them have played even more than that because of the two-leg Canadian Championship series. People will say the fixture list is beneficial to Edmonton and some will say it isn’t.
What I will say, is that the lack of regular games makes it hard to establish any sort of rhythm and chemistry. Training and partaking in intrasquad sessions can only do so much. It gets to the point where it just becomes too repetitive for the players and even the coaches.
“You do find a game rhythm and the players find that game tempo that they need to play at,” Jeff Paulus said. “We are just training against yourself, so it hard to replicate what youll need on match day. This has been tough; I don’t get why we didn’t play this past weekend. Why did we have to wait 10-days again, I’m not sure. I can’t speak for the schedule makers, but I am not happy. I would have much rather played this weekend so I don’t understand that.”
But, the frustration of not playing enough will be over starting this week. Edmonton will face Forge FC in Hamilton, Ontario on Wednesday evening before flying back to the capital of Alberta for their second match of the week versus Valour FC.
Paulus is well aware of the potential threat that Forge has and has altered his training in the build-up to this match, so that his team are more aware of the potential problems that could arise on Wednesday evening.
“They are a good side,” Paulus said. “I say this with full acknowledgement of how Cavalry are doing, but for me, Forge are the top footballing team at the moment in this league. They are well schooled, there build out is very good. Up front, they’ve got a front five. Individually they can punish you, they are a really dangerous team.”
“We want to change how we want to set up defensively. We want to be an aggressive defending side, but we have to be careful, in particular against this team. We really focused on discipline in defending, setting an engagement line. So we have a set up to stop them and there are some parts of their game that we think we can exploit offensively.”
The big challenge for Edmonton would be the fact that a number of players are facing a late fitness test ahead of this week’s schedule. There is a chance Edmonton could be without some familiar faces, but Paulus is hopeful that he will have a full squad to pick from.
“We have about five or six players who could be out for this match,” Paulus added. “That has an impact for what you want to do with your starting lineup and the substitutes you have pre-planned kind of goes out the window.”
For the record, having a Canadian injured is a BIG loss because you’re supposed to start six Canadians in your lineup. So if you are missing a handful of Canadian starters, then you are in a bit of trouble.
There will be some rotation this week, but Paulus is a firm believer of keeping a steady lineup for every match. Building chemistry is important and Paulus cited the cases of Leicester City and Chelsea, who made the least amount of changes to their starting lineup, which ultimately led to each team winning an English Premier League title.