Flattering to Deceive

Okay so we won 5-1 but did we deserve such a victory. That we defeated the worst team in the Premier League is no mean feat for us, whilst recording our best win of this league season in the process, is realistically nothing to get over excited about. 

They were poor, but during the first half, you could not tell which team was in danger of relegation and which, until recently, was in contention for Champions League football next season.

We gifted them their first and only goal, and once again it came from defensive slips. I have over the past season highlighted these defensive problems but, and for once, I am grateful for outside assistance. According to most online statistical analysis we have now conceded between 18 and 20 goals due initially to defensive errors. More than any other top flight team – pretty damning.

Against Sunderland we were rarely under pressure yet in the 18th minute we managed to concede a goal of such awesome simplicity and such awesome stupidity that it beggars belief. But it does warrant questions that require answering.

Why was Chiriches taking the throw in, leaving Kaboul alone in central defence? Surely he should have left it for Naughton and moved into his usual position.

Why did he throw it to Lloris, out of his area and out of position? Were there not better options upfield? Actually looking at replays – no there weren´t – which means that other players were not looking for openings.

Why did Lloris play the ball back to Chiriches, now being closed down, instead of hoofing it upfield and away from danger?

With the ball at his feet, Chiriches chose to push the ball inside – seemingly without looking where he was playing it or who to. Why?

The ball found its way to Cattermole who calmly and quite beautifully stroked it home from 20 yards. And so we gave Sunderland – and I will repeat this, the worst team in the Premier League – a head start.

By half time we had, due to a speculative Eriksen cross and a rebound off Brown´s thigh onto Adebayor, found an equalisor. Was it warranted? On the run of play, on the amount of possession, possibly yes, but we have been there before and not got anywhere. Remember Newcastle. Remember WetSpam.

But at least Big Ade was in the right place at the right time.

Into the second half, another speculative Eriksen cross and this time Kane was inch perfect with his run to steer home his first Premier League goal for us.

I have been critical of Harry Kane in the past, believing he was not good enough for us. However, once he had got his debut goal he seemed he change, and then after he had been felled by an inadvertent clash of heads with Brown and returned to the pitch with his head clothed in bandages, he looked and played like a totally different person.

His control was more refined, he drove at players with intent. None more so than when he should have been awarded a penalty. None more so than when he broke free of three defenders and forced a shot under the goalkeepers body. Would it have gone in? Unlikely, but Adebayor (probably offside when the initial shot was taken) was on hand to tap the ball home.

Before that, a sublime finish from Eriksen – man of the match for me – and a last gasp scrambled goal from Siggy, got us and then secured us the victory.

And so the end is near. Five more games against teams of similar quality to Sundreland. Can we get similar results and possibly push ourselves into contention for something other than mid to high table respectability?

Five wins for us is not out of the question, as we are certainly good enough to beat all the teams we have to play – either home or away – but to qualify for anything in Europe is beyond our control. We need both Everton – now in pole position for the final Champions League spot – and Le Arse, to drop points and both on more than one occasion. Unlikely.

And of course that assumes that Manure do not go on and win the Champions League itself as I foretold back in January. Even the Ferdinand has now publicly proclaimed that they are aiming at that trophy rather than any position in the League.

But at least we got back to winning ways, if may not have been totally convincing until the last 20 minutes or so, it certainly was not pretty at times, but it was another three points, and we got our goal difference back to zero.

Things can only get better – can´t they?

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