Good afternoon Positives,
There we are then, a poor week finished off for all sports of footballing and no-footballing reasons by a defeat to Brighton.
Reviewing in my mind’s eye the performance today we lost the game as a result of a period of incomprehensibly poor defending during a 35 minute period when our defensive core, Cech, Kosc and Shkrodran looked never to have met one another before and Brighton physically brushed them aside. Each time a corner came in a big blue head got on the end of it. What was puzzling was the back four we put out, including Kolasinac and Chambers is physically the most imposing group of defenders we have at the club as viable starters. Why lads … Why … Whisper it in my ear – please – I won’t shout – I promise ! It was 2-0 after 27 minutes but in truth it could have been worse.
In any event having recovered consciousness and found ourselves flat on our back we suddenly flickered into life. Oddly the turning point of our afternoon was Jack’s 40th minute wild challenge of Knockaert, for which he was deservedly carded, but after which we had some energy about us and physically began to compete. Over the remainder of the half we matched Brighton challenge for challenge, and certainly in the second half went on to dominate our opponents, over 80% of the pitch at least. That goal just before half time, neatly despatched after good work on the left, surely provided the platform for a storming second half. Or so I thought …..
In spite of our momentum going into the second half Brighton defended deep, deeper, deepest, were organised, and allowed us only an occasional sight of Ryan’s goal throughout what seemed a very long 45 minute indeed. I thought Jack and Granit were very good throughout the second 45 and the Englishman was constantly poking at the centre of the Brighton line. In front of them PEA and Mkhi also twisted and turned and tried to find space but Gawd it was crowded in there. We tried to hit them again and again on the same axis, and they defended again and again in the same way. I cannot criticise the sweat that we put in, or the commitment of our players once they had come to their senses. The guile to cut open Brighton however was just not there. Is that 16 goals in 15 PL away games this season ?
So well done to our hosts today, a deserved three points won with two well taken chances and a commendable second half defensive display. I know it is a subject I could bore for my country on but oh how I wish we had a nippy winger like that Izquierdo who was a constant thorn in our flank all afternoon.
We must stop meeting like this.
Enjoy Sunday and I trust like me you are looking forward to temporarily putting the clanking chains of Premier League football aside and enjoying the prospect of the San Siro and Milan.