Monday, December 29, 2008

Blackburn 2 Manchester City 2

Blackburn Rovers 2 Manchester City 2

Sunday December 28, 2008, 4.15pm
Ewood Park, Blackburn - Att: 25,200


After tossing away so many points this season, it was refreshing that we were able to show some resolve and spirit to claw back an unlikely point. Hughes was pleased with the character shown by the side yesterday and credit must be given to a side which since reports of a divided squad emerged, have proved to be anything but - evidenced with the reaction to the equaliser.

A comeback of that nature though does tend to gloss over some of the inadequacies during the ninety minutes as a whole, and once again following an impressive win we fail to follow with the type of performance (and result) that hints at the level of consistency required. It is an age old problem with ourselves , but we have to be a lot smarter against those sides whose principal aim to frustrate and make life difficult for us.

Team wise was perhaps a surprise - firstly, with the lack of changes as I expected a grittier line-up to cope with the physical nature of Blackburn, but secondly, with the only change that was made. Reports suggested that Micah Richards was not fit enough to start the game, but was Nedum Onouha's inclusion a sign that Hughes has had enough of the failings at the back?

Whilst Sturridge's goal was a gift from a poor defensive header, the equaliser was anything but. A tenacious and patient piece of play from Sturridge led to a perfectly weighted pass to Robinho who executed the goal with the composure that comes with paying £32.5 million for a player. It is doubtful anyone else on the pitch yesterday would have slotted home so comfortably. Jamie Redknapp called Robinho an easy target for the critics, and a return of 11 from 15 is excellent for a a first season in the Premier League.

Both of the goals we conceded yesterday were disappointing. Jason Roberts was allowed to turn far too easily to set up McCarthy's opener whilst Roberts was left unmarked to head home the second after a scramble in the box. Dunne could easily have been sent off early for the foul on Roberts and surely Hughes is targeting this area?

The disparity between our goal ratio depending on whether we win or not is striking. We have now conceded 29 goals in the games we have failed to win - in comparison to the ridiculous differential when we taste victory. This inequality needs to be addressed if we are to shoot up the league during the second half of the season.

After being under a huge amount of pressure leading up to the Christmas period games, Hughes will be pleased with a four point return that has lifted us five places in the table. There is of course plenty to work from but it at least suggests the doom and gloom was a little misplaced. Now roll on January.

Some quick thoughts:
  • Sturridge undoubtedly created a spark when he came on, and I do think being an impact player from the bench best suits him at the moment. Hopefully his contract status will be resolved soon enough.
  • We have undoubtedly missed Michael Johnson this season. The type of player who can bridge between Kompany and the attacking elements in the side is much needed.
  • Joe Hart's distribution was poor today. I know Sven cut out the long clearances from the backand this weakness could really hold him back.
  • It says much that Richards was not fully fit yet Ben Haim failed to make the bench. I'd be surprised if he had much of a future with us.

vote it up!

2 comments:

longwayfromhome said...

Good article and would agree with the conclusions around areas on the pitch to concentrate on in the transfer window. I would however also add the left back slot to your list . Personally I think Garrido is much improved and adds a lot to our attacking options. But with MH prefering Michael Ball for "solidity" we need to strengthen ... Ball has continually shown himself out of his depth imo, he has no pace and his positional sense is shocking.

Danny Pugsley said...

I agree and I'm not sure why Garrido was jettisoned given he was arguably showing his best form?