Another characteristic performance and yet more frustration, fortunately with City dropping points yesterday our hopes of holding onto third spot remain, but that is all. You know what you are going to get at Stoke and we got it, we simply didn't do the basics well enough defensively and got punished for it by a workmanlike Stoke side
Johan Djourou has had a brilliant season but he has made some sloppy errors in his last couple of away games, today Stoke's scrappy opener was down to his failure to adequately mark Kenwyne Jones and we paid the price. The second was a fortunate deflection. 2-0 down at half time and a mountain to climb. The problem was that goals change games and by conceding such a sloppy opener it played right into Stoke's hands, they could then keep men behind the ball and play exactly as they wanted. If we could have defender better then given our domination of the game, this was just the kind of game we could turn from a defeat into a comfortable win.
We controlled the second half and were again by far the better footballing side, RVP even got us back into it with his goal in the final third. Sadly our hopes of a recovery were short lived, Djourou's poor clearance broke for Walters in the box, he was given far too much space and gave Szczesny no chance at all. All the possession, domination and superior technique counts for nothing if you are going to surrender cheap cheap goals in this suicidal fashion.
This has been the story of our season, cheap goals conceded that have cost us point after point in games which we have frequently been by far the better footballing side. Our casual and negligent defending has cost us big time this season. Whatever happens in United Chelsea later only postpones the inevitable crowning of the most average Premier League title winners for quite some time, it is sad that we haven't even been able to push them to the wire.
Our defense and our defensive play as a team need sorting, this much is obvious. The formation doesn't seem to help us much, the lack of defensive structure of the 4-3-3 is a hindrance. There are problems with some individuals in the squad. There is a lack of depth in terms of defensive midfielders and centre backs, maybe this is why we are seeing the likes of Song and Djourou burnt out at this stage of the year. No matter how good a team is offensively, if you keep going behind to cheap goals then you are going to throw a lot of points away in a season.