Purgatory at the Lane. For the second time this season weâ€™ve been on the end of outstanding defensive performances from teams that came for a point and took all three. First Stoke and now Wolves.
Unlike Stoke, who snatched a late winner with their only shot on goal, Wolves did the damage early, with Kevin Doyle getting the faintest of touches to deflect Milijasâ€™ right wing free kick into the net. After that it was 11 men behind the ball, time-wasting, and break us down if you can….and try as we did, we couldnâ€™t get through.
I suppose itâ€™s a compliment of sorts that teams are coming to the Lane and doing this, though Iâ€™m not entirely sure that we deserve that compliment. Weâ€™ve not achieved anything. Anyway, since weâ€™re not going to get many entertaining football matches at the Lane this season, we might as well get used to the idea, and make damn sure that we get the first goal, otherwise itâ€™s going to be a long, hard, unedifying season.
Coming on the back of a week when weâ€™ve been to Villa and Everton and played them both off the park but only got a point from each, weâ€™re wondering what we have to do to get a win. Maybe we should take a leaf out of Wolvesâ€™ book, but it really isnâ€™t in this teamâ€™s DNA to play that way. We want the ball and we want to pass it. Sometimes (like in this game) we want to pass it too much.
Against Wolves we had countless situations to profit from, but over-intricate passing, slow thinking, carelessness, and good defending undid our ambitions time and time again. There were therefore few real chances, for all our dominance of the ball. Niko Kranjcar had probably the best, but volleyed wide from six yards; Huddlestone drew a good save from Hahnemann from further out. The longer it went on though, the more the feeling settled in that we werenâ€™t going to score if we played all night. A more even distribution of the famous 9 we put past Wigan would have served us well these last few games (Jeez, if we could have borrowed 7 of them and used one each at Villa and Everton, and two against Wolves, weâ€™d still have three left!).
Ah well. I could moan about the ref and his assistants, and their very fetching black and gold contact lenses, but frankly who cares. Weâ€™ve got more money than Wolves so we deserve everything we get. Bring on Man City on Wednesday. A massive game for us. They will come to play football, and hurrah for that.
Star man: Hard to pick one out, for all the wrong reasons â€“ letâ€™s say Luka Modric, just for being there for the first time since August!
Worst perfromer: Wilson Palacios couldnâ€™t put a foot right, poor bloke
Best moment: Modricâ€™s introduction from the bench was rapturously received
Tactics: Keane and Defoe started up front with Crouch back on the bench. Two wide men, lots of ball, and absolutely stuff all to show for it.
Opposition fans: Cock-a-hoop
By Andy Knaggs
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