Itâ€™s easy to feel hard done by after this defeat. Superficially we were undone by a couple of incompetent assistant referees and a complicit Andre Marriner. There remains though the feeling that we couldâ€™ve done more to help ourselves. Our performance featured several spells of better than average possession football, a marvellous display from Modric and an excellent one from Sandro that featured a cracker of a goal. Gomes made a couple of decent early saves, and at the back the centre pairing were solid once a tactical rearrangement was made once weâ€™d taken the lead.
Unfortunately also in evidence were the familiar powder puff forward line, a completely anonymous display from Lennon (who used to be able to terrorise Cole but now barely gets a kick when he plays against him), a distracted one from Bale, two very uncertain fullbacks and another effort from Gomes that were he a cricketer would have had him suspended whilst betting patterns were analysed. He is a goalkeeper very dependent on confidence so whilst Redknapp is right to say that this is no time to crucify him, it is also time to recognise that having a man this erratic between the sticks is causing more harm than good. To many he was our player of the season last year, this time out though from White Hart Lane to the Bernabeu, from Old Trafford to Stamford Bridge, heâ€™s cost us too many goals.
Before the Brazilianâ€™s latest cock-up from Lampardâ€™s speculative effort, which the lino was of course also largely to blame for, we were defending our lead well. We had though spent the five minutes up to Chelseaâ€™s equaliser defending deeper and deeper as we anticipated half time. By inviting the home team on to us we were beckoning trouble. In the second half we were heading for the draw when again we made our intentions clear by swapping VdV for Jenas and camping in our own third. Drogbaâ€™s lucky slice to the offside Kalou didnâ€™t come as a total surprise, what did raise an eyebrow was the fact that Pienaar was the closest white shirt to the scorer as he stabbed home.
The BBC stats show that we had 7 attempts on target and 5 off which surprised me as itâ€™s difficult to recall much meaningful around the home teamâ€™s penalty area especially in the second half. We looked largely impotent and feeble up front. The flurry of goals from Defoe or Pav that we needed from about ten games ago just hasnâ€™t happened. One win from eight games means that even if Man City were to spectacularly implode, Liverpool are now in a better position to take advantage than we are. A position in the Europa League also looks in doubt, which in truth will disappoint those who enjoy travelling to the away legs but will remove an unwelcome distraction as we put together another stab at a top four finish four next season.
The decisive influences in this game were dressed in black and that adds to the frustration at how a decisive blow was dealt to our seasonâ€™s ambitions. That doesnâ€™t though lessen the disappointment.
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