With only five rounds remaining, it has been an interesting turn of events over the last two games for the Essendon Football Club. The players’ commitment has raised question marks and the conditioning of the players has been brought into focus.
Walking away with two consecutive losses by large margins, each suffered by the hands of Geelong and Hawthorn, has left the Bombers fans with a nervous ride to the finals, despite sitting on a comfortable record of 8-1 earlier in the year. The question on our minds is: can Essendon tune their performance and overcome the next five games to retain their top eight crown?
Hawthorn’s 94-point thrashing over the Bombers could not have been any worse, as it was a reminder of a similar defeat just over three weeks ago against St Kilda. Now with five rounds remaining in the season, the Bombers are facing a fierce run home which is comprised of Adelaide, North Melbourne, Carlton, Richmond and Collingwood. Of the five teams, three sit in the top eight. The other two are in possible contention.
Essendon has found themselves in a downward spiral. It is yet to lose its top eight spot, however with a daunting injury crisis which has left over twenty players on the injury list due to soft tissue, the club has been haunted and are currently in the works of reassessing what needs to be done to maintain their top eight spot.
David Zaharakis, Paddy Ryder and Stewart Crameri are just a few of the key players who have fallen victim to the rapid soft tissue injuries, and it is believed that neither of the players are in line for a return against Adelaide at AAMI Stadium. If the Bombers can pull it off, it could possibly propel them to fifth place ahead of their clash with the Kangaroos.
North Melbourne is at the edge of the fence, sitting in eighth place, attempting to muscle through the deep end to secure their finals spot. Facing the Bombers will be the ultimate showcase since both teams are at relatively similar calibres. Each team’s their first two games in their run home are crucial, as a single loss could potentially release them of their top eight spot, joining the likes of Carlton, St Kilda and Fremantle in the bottom ten, who are respectively one to two wins away from leapfrogging them.
Essendon is right up against it in the next month, as they need to prevail in at least two games in order to secure their spot. Otherwise, they will have to go through Collingwood in their final showdown of the season to rekindle their finals hopes, and Collingwood is no walk in the park.