The dust has settled, acceptance has replaced denial and a more detached view of last Sunday is possible. Maybe.
So what happened? Was it just a case of the plucky underdog winning a local derby, as underdogs are prone to do?
The Formbook. Did it ‘get thrown out of the window’ or could the sides’ performances have been predicted by tapping the glass on your old Form Barometer? Sort of somewhere in the middle is probably the answer. No-one could have foreseen the determined and dynamic performances of Rosicky and Benayoun, nor the composure of Walcott in his second half one on ones. He’s a man who more often than not appears to have left his finishing boots somewhere near his lost potential, and that’s far politer than the comments he was getting from the home fans before half time. In our case, some players played to their normal level, some others, even if they weren’t helped by the formation, were below par. We started badly despite taking the lead and never got much better. Worse in fact.
Is it nearing the end for Ledley? Harry has apparently admitted that King was touch and go before the game. He went with ‘go’, what we witnessed wasn’t the Ledley we know and love. Even though Van Persie was restricted to one shot on target in the whole match, he was still allowed to keep possession and bring other players into the game in a way that Adebayor was not. Doubts were sown at Manchester when three goals were conceded with King giving away the penalty at the death – he’s no longer the man who can run down lost causes and make accomplished players look like amateurs. Maybe the time for Caulker is sooner rather than later?
Adebayor. 10 out of 10 for his penalty and his ball to Saha but overall disappointing. He was constantly muscled off the ball by Vermaelen and Koscielny and his first touch was nowhere near good enough. A lack of support can’t be quoted in his defence on this occasion.
Tactics. Where to start? Harry apparently voiced out loud before the game his fear of getting overrun in midfield and he then picked two up front and only Parker to do the dirty work. The subs were made at h-t to shore things up but conceding a sloppy goal straight after the break brought an end to that. It’s anyone’s guess whether Sandro knew where he was supposed to be playing. All a bit of a mess.
If Lennon is fit he should play. To not pick him means we’re immediately playing people out of position and looking unbalanced. I don’t know how many times I’ve written that in the last few months. Lots.
And whilst we’re here, the stadium. Please let our new ground be better than that temple to all things corporate and branded. It’s an atmosphereless dustbowl. Tumbleweed.
What next? As has been said we lost the battle but are still winning the war. If we throw away a seven point lead over fifth place with twelve games to go we probably don’t deserve CL football next season. Preparation for Sunday needs to be better. A more cautious outlook is probably appropriate, especially as we’re without the England skipper. Dust ourselves down and carry on is all we can do. Memories of two years ago and the loss to Portsmouth have been evoked. Something like the run to the end of the season that followed that defeat will do very nicely thank you.
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