Last season when we went to the Etihad we were a goal down inside 13 seconds. We were three down inside twenty minutes, all caused by a series of defensive lapses.
This season we managed to hold out a lot longer, but yet again defensive slips cost us.
There is no point giving a player of the quality of Aguero room to turn and fire in shots, and there certainly is no point in giving him three penalties.
And then, when we get a penalty ourselves, we simply have to convert it. Within a few minutes of Soldado´s missed spot kick, which would have seen us restored to two-all, we conceded another penalty and had Fazio sent off and at 3-1 it was game over yet again.
Claims could be made that their first should not have stood as Fat Frank was blocking Lloris´ view and was clearly in an offside position. Indeed he had to take avoiding action so the ball did not hit him so any counter claim that he was not influencing play can be ignored.
A claim could be made that Fat Frank made the most of minimal contact with his backside – difficult to miss with the size of it – and that therefore their first penalty should not have been given.
There is, however, no doubt that the other two penalties awarded against us were correct decisions while the one we were awarded looked doubtful as contact was probably outside the area.
But was Fazio the last man, would Aguero have had a clear goalscoring chance and was this denied him by being manhandled, and so should our big Argentinian have been sent off?
Once again we had triple jeopardy
A penalty awarded against us, down to ten men for the remainder of the game and a player suspended for at least one match.
Unfair on all counts and that is now the second game in a row against Citeh where we have had a player sent off in conceding a penalty. Last time at least our appeal was upheld but they still got the penalty, the goal and the win and with ten men we were up against it.
Although we were on the end of a minor hiding we did not – like other teams in the Premier League last weekend – give up. We were outnumbered at the end, we were outplayed for most of the game, but at least players on the pitch kept trying. Chadli, Eriksen and Lamela were all looking for the ball and all were looking to do something positive with it, but is that enough?
Regrettably what those three did not do too frequently was track back and help out their defence. We seem to be playing with two separate elements within one team, one that concentrates wholly on attack and one that is responsible for defending – with the two rarely coming together.
The flair players have to realise that when they do not have the ball it is their duty to press the opposition, to try and win it back quickly and recycle it. Against lesser teams – QPR in particular – they have done this to great effect.
But against the better teams it is even more essential. Even the likes of Citeh and Chelski can be forced into errors if they are matched stride for stride over the entire pitch, if they are put under pressure as soon as they receive the ball, but they are not – were not – and so were able to express themselves to the full. Is it because the opposition – and us in particular – is maybe too scared on them?
Apart from the penalty miss we had a fair few chances, we could have been ahead before they scored when Mason had a clear chance, Soldado had a great shot well saved late on, and others went close but never close enough. Eriksen´s solitary strike was a rare glimpse of hope that we could get something out of the game – but in all fairness we did not deserve to get anything.
Not because we were not worthy of it, but simply because Citeh were the better side. We made them look a much better side. We allowed them space, we gave away sloppy goals and we paid the penalty.
We now find ourselves in 9th place in the table, albeit level on points with teams such as Le Arse and only 2 points away from fourth – a position somewhat surprisingly held by WetSpam – so all is not lost.
Our next few games in the League are not too daunting – Newcastle, Villa, Stoke, Hull and Everton – but we do need to put teams like them away and get a positive goal difference as otherwise we will be playing catch up with those ahead of us – as we did for most of last season.