Analysis of the goal conceded against Aston Villa (26/12)
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An excellent Christmas period for us so far despite giving ourselves a challenge in both games! Towards the end of the Villa game, we started to defend far too deep, and it looked as though the man advantage may finally pay off for Villa, as they scored in the 82nd minute.
Palacios loses the ball in an advanced area, and Warnock has possession. With our players dropping deep, he is able to pick out Albrighton with ease.
Albrighton is a very right-footed player who, at this point of the game, is on the left-hand side. Lennon and Hutton should therefore be trying to send him down the line on to his left foot.
As Lennon trots back behind the ball to make up a second bank of four, Albrighton is able to advance unchallenged. He has nothing in front of him, so is either going to have to take on Lennon (and then Hutton), pass backwards, or deliver from deep. Notice Palacios – he has made up some ground in coming back from the Villa half, but should now be looking to stop Albrighton coming inside, or block off the pass to Delfouneso, who is just to the left of the referee.
Albrighton wrong-foots Lennon to make a bit of space – in truth, Lennon doesn’t do a good job of showing him on to his weaker foot. Palacios has stopped…
Having already whipped in some excellent crosses in the match, we should be wary of Albrighton’s delivery. Lennon unfortunately gives him plenty of room to work with – not helped by Palacios, who is totally out of the game – Delfouneso has now dropped off into a decent position just outside the box (the same position from which Agbonlahor has just had a dangerous shot), yet Palacios has chosen to ignore him and hope for the best.
Albrighton delivers a near perfect cross – curling towards the far post, flat, and with plenty of power. Kaboul is goal-side of Collins, so should be able to clear anything that will land on his head.
Collins makes a lunge, but Kaboul has actually judged his position fairly well, and Collins is unable to make it. Gomes can’t move yet, as he has to wait to see whether Collins is going to make contact.
The quality of the delivery means that the ball bounces past Gomes and into the far post.
Not a situation that we defended well, but in fairness we only had 10 men, and had done so for a large proportion of the match. It’s understandable that our players were tired, and were defending deep to try to cling on to the two-goal advantage. Fortunately for us, it worked, and we came away with the points.
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Perhaps the constant new pairings at centre half are preventing us establishing a clear understanding of a defensive line.
Palacios has played much better lately but is prone to dozing off.
He was poor against Newcastle because he took up the macho challenge and became unfocussed.
a) Lennon is not a full back, nor a defensive player. It is not his duty to be aware too much of which is Albrighton's strong foot, or whether he is 2-footed. Besides Albrighton is usually on the right, so Lennon has even less reason to be entirely researched on him. This switch did the trick for them. How many times do you see full-backs failing to force a winger onto weak foot? Asking Lennon to do it every time is a tad optimistic.
b) Lennon was incredibly knackered. He often is taken off due to running himself into the ground. Plus we all know that he is getting through issues. Lennon did some excellent tracking back during this game. Ledge.
c) Wilson has good game, but he too was knackered, and as the minutes wind down, and you have a 2 goal cushion, switching off does happen.
d) Defending deep? Of course they were. Cannot critcise when pegged back.
e) Gomes powerless - excellent cross. Wingers should try this cross more often.
f) No one really at fault here apart from Defoe for giving the ref a decision to make. 3 points anyway!
Jimmy - Agree with all, especially Palacios. He was losing his rag, and with it his positional discipline.
Anon @ 14:07 - Largely agree, harsh to blame anyone too much. Lennon definitely could have done more though, although he is normally very good defensively, which often goes unnoticed.
Anon @ 14:09 - I don't think Gomes could do anything on this occasion.
Anon @ 15:50 - Agree, he could have done more to stop the cross coming in from Albrighton's right foot.
Anon @ 16:51 - Not lucky IMO - quality delivery, but we stood off.
Anon @ 23:23 - Hutton had to position himself where he did in case Albrighton skipped past Lennon - classic "two banks of four" defending.