The season is now at it´s halfway stage with exactly half the Premiership games played and every single team in the division already played against. In addition we have had 11 cup games meaning that a total of 30 games have been enjoyed – if that is a term we can use when applied to watching THFC.
Of those, 19 were recorded as victories, 5 were draws (and I include the 2-2 which went to penalties in this figure) while we lost 6 – four at home. And that perhaps is the most telling statistic of the entire season so far. Only two defeats on the road – at the Emirates and the Etihad – is not that bad in the entire scheme of things. Okay the 6-0 drubbing in the latter wasn´t good but it is our home form that is so disappointing. Losing at home to WetSpam twice and being annihilated by Liverpool is never going to endear the team and the management to the fans.
As fans we have also bemoaned the lack of goals yet in those 30 games we have actually scored 52 times, while we have conceded 30, equating to an average scoreline of 1.75 to 1 per game.
That the majority of those goals came in midweek cup games against teams from far and wide – most of whom would not get anywhere near the Premiership if they were English – does need to be taken into consideration, but we can only compete against who we are drawn against and in the Europa league at least we were little short of perfection in our overall results. Eight games, eight wins, 23 goals for and only two blemishes in the conceded column – again both at home.
The CapOneCup saw us progress to the quarter final stage with a fine 4-0 win at Villa Park followed by that 2-2 draw and the 8-7 penalty shootout, only for us to have the second consecutive home defeat at the hands of WetSpam. In three games we scored 7 and conceded 4 – again all four at home.
For a team that prides its home stadium as a fortress these statistics are telling.
At the beginning of the season we went four games without conceding, lost 1-0, and then another four games without conceding. In all we have kept a clean sheet in 15 games, half the matches played. We did it 8 times in our first ten games, but only twice in our last ten. Whereas the defence was solid now it is leaking like a sieve.
Of course at the other end we have been scoring goals – as stated before 52 in total – and we have been creating chances (remember we had over 40 shots on goal in the one game against Newcastle) but our problem has been converting those chances, those shots into more goals.
It does not help that the vast majority of our attacking force is new to the club with only one defender and one defensive midfielder amongst the seven new signings that have yet to fully adapt to the rigours of the English Premier League. Soldado has been blamed for many of these woes, but for much of the time he has ploughed a lone furrow with little or no support, not getting the ball at his feet in the areas where he can do the most damage.
We have yet to see whether the re-adoption of a two-man strike force will be the long term solution – or whether the new management team will revert to type – especially when playing away against other top teams. In the four games since AVB departed we have tried this system resulting in 8 goals for, five against – equating to an average of 2-1.25 per game, not that much different from the average for the whole season.
But it is an improvement, twice in those four games we have scored three goals – never before achieved in the League this season – and one of those was against a team set up to defend and frustrate, so the signs are looking good.
We have no problem dominating proceedings, even at the Etihad we had the majority of the possession, we simply cannot score enough goals against other top teams. If we are to impose ourselves on the League and seriously contend for a top four position and with it Champions League Football, we need to perform better against those other teams.
Looking at the Premiership table it is evident that there are two separate leagues within the league, the top eight and the bottom 12. Against other teams in the top eight we have yet to record a victory, with three draws (two at home) and four defeats (three at home). Against teams from the lower reaches we have only dropped points against WetSpam and WBA – again both at home. Every away game against a lower team has been won. Trips to Palace, Cardiff, Villa, Fulham, Sunderland, Southampton all resulted in victories, the margin of victory has not been great but it is results that count.
Our away form – the Etihad apart – has been good, it is our home form that it the most disappointing aspect of the first half of the season. Teams know they can come to White Hart Lane and defend and get a result. If anything must change in the second half of the season it is this – improve our performances against all teams when we are at home.
And with that I wish you, not only a happy second half to the season, but a happy and prosperous New Year.