December 11, 2010
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Top of Champions League Group A – an absolutely remarkable achievement. We’ve broken records for goals scored, we’ve surprised everyone, both at home and abroad, and we’ve surely been the most exciting team so far – partially due to our dreadful defensive record!
Once again, our defence wasn’t much cop on Tuesday, partially due to a flimsy central midfield – with Palacios frequently leaving his post to chase after the ball, and Kranjcar, a stand-in, with Jenas limping off. Assou-Ekotto also had a bit of a nightmare – his worst game for some time- gifting a penalty, and making a number of other poor decisions.
The opening goal came from a spot, after a rather innocuous attack ended with Assou-Ekotto raising his arm to protect his face, much like Fabregas just a few weeks ago.
The ball is lifted rather aimlessly into the box.
Bassong heads clear, but only to Brama (I think), who nods back to Rosales.
It’s a sweet strike with his left foot, but Assou-Ekotto should be used to braving these kind of situations, and putting his body into the line of fire.
Yes, it’s a natural reaction to protect your face, but it’s very frustrating from a fan point of view to concede such a soft penalty.
The penalty is correctly ordered to be re-taken, due to the encroaching of a number of players.
Landzaat gets a little lucky second time around. He hits it straight down Gomes’ throat – Gomes gets something on the ball, but it goes straight through him. It’s harsh to expect a goalkeeper to save a penalty, but I can’t help but feel that he should have done better.
This header is a thing of beauty – I’ve not seen a better one for some time.
The ball is played wide for Chadli – Corluka comes out to him.
Corluka shows him down the line, knowing that there are very few players forward. Instead, Chadli stands a rather hopeful cross to the back post – it’s asking an awful lot from Rosales.
But Rosales comes up with an unbelievable header. He is a long way out, the cross is not ideal – he has to get up early (and he gets a long way above Assou-Ekotto), and use the muscles in his neck to put a lot of power on to the ball himself.
He not only gets sufficient power, but he plants it perfectly into the corner, and beyond Gomes. A brilliant finish.
Unfortunately I can’t find a decent video that includes the Lennon “foul” which leads to the awarding of this free kick. Suffice to say, the guy literally just falls over! Once the free kick was wrongly awarded, you are tempted to stand back and admire the quality of the strike. However, when you take a closer look, you can’t help but feel that another of our players should just take one for the team…
Gomes lines up the wall to protect the right side of his goal. Palacios, for some reason, jumps slightly to his left, and the ball goes right between him and Bale. If you watch the video, you can see Palacios’ strange jump more clearly. A solid wall, linked and jumping as one, and this ball doesn’t get near the goal.
Once through, this is only going to find the net – right in the corner, and well beyond the reach of Gomes, who had stood to the left.
Our defensive selection against Chelsea will be interesting. Michael Dawson got 90 minutes under his belt on Wednesday (in a Spurs XI game against MK Dons), and could now be in contention to come back into the side. With Kaboul also returning to fitness, we have four fit centre backs competing for the first time in a while. I can’t help but think that this has come slightly too soon for Dawson, and would expect that Gallas and Bassong will start again. Of course, one option would be to use Kaboul at right-back. Either way, we’ll need to keep things tight against Chelsea, and for me that means that Palacios needs to be much more disciplined in his play – he simply can’t go chasing the ball, and must learn to hold his position.