Good morning Positives,
And a fine morning again in Norfolk, and a Bank holiday to boot – a rare combination.
A top game yesterday that had me on the edge of the technical area until the 94th minute. A commendable performance from our lads, one and all. No hint of any panic or fright as we played smooth, patient football all afternoon, always on the front foot, passing, passing, passing and gradually driving the Baggies back. I heard/read some frustration that we were “passing too much” and had “too much possession”. I am afraid that to finally crack open the visiting side yesterday that the game we played was required, totally dominant in possession, pass after pass after pass, before finally putting them to the sword. The bullfighting metaphor struck me as apt. Mesut the torero with the cape and hook, Olivier with the sword as matador, the panting beast stumbled to its knees before its lights, finally, went out.
As I say I was pleased with all our players yesterday. Because WBA were not remotely interested in attacking from open play the pitch was open for our unrestricted use. All three of our full backs had excellent games. Hector put in his most attacking performance that I can remember, very effective and deserving of a goal. Gibbs was excellent and his constant pressing on the wing worked well with Sanchez, and Monreal stepped in to keep the pressure on the by then wilting visitors.
Further forward the Coq and Granit combination worked well against the Albion midfield. Both players have bags of energy and are fast over the ground which is about 90% of midfield work in the PL nowadays. Win the ball, then pass it swiftly to the players who don’t waste it. Granit – the shooting from 25 yards son – leave it for now eh?
And finally the men at the tip of the spear, Alexis and Larry, both of whom carved chances out against Albion that on another day, and with a keeper less awake than Ben Foster, would have brought a 2 or 3 goal margin of victory rather than the single goal win.
Against us was arrayed a visiting side who played their part exceptionally well also, resolute defenders to the death, throwing their bodies and heads in until finally they were skewered. Pulis did what he does best, scrape a gang of modestly talented journeymen into a defensive wall of greater quality than its constituent parts. Tony knows when he is beaten at his own game though. To quote the defeated manager on our winner;
“He put his hand across him early and outmuscled him,” said the West Brom manager, Tony Pulis, almost in admiration. “I think if Gareth takes a step forward, then he stops Giroud pinning him. Once he pinned him he is so strong and overpowers him. I’ve got no complaints.”
A defeated manager with “no complaints” Pffft –As flies to wanton boys are we to th’ gods. They kill us for their sport.
Of other aspects of the game ? Bad luck for young Kieran to go off after a clash in which both players could have been seriously injured. Hopefully for our full back he just has a badly bruised knee and will be fit for Palace. No gripes with referee Swarbrick yesterday. Not one of my favourite whistlers but a workmanlike performance with no errors I saw. One minor negative; Giroud needs to control the ‘dissent’ business. A pointless yellow card that early and you are one clumsy challenge or stray arm away from reducing us to ten men. And that would have ruined everyone’s afternoon!
That is me for this year – thank you for reading !