Often Partisan

A tale of two mistakes

Here are my reflections on the match against Sunderland at St Andrews today:

1) Jerome

Today was an awesome performance from our number 10. Evidently McLeish agreed with my assessment in yesterday’s blog that the Sunderland defence was suspect, as he had obviously told Jerome to get into and about the Sunderland back line; something the Huddersfield born striker did with aplomb. He may not have scored today, but he set up the first with a well-won header, and his all round play had the Sunderland back four on the back foot. In the past his control has been a major criticism, but today I counted three times Jerome taking long balls on his chest, keeping the ball in control and being able to lay it off to a Blues player.

2) Mistakes

I think I’ve also said before that football is all about what happens in the two boxes. It’s also a game of how you take your chances; Sunderland had one first up when Blues were caught in possession just outside the box, but a good save from Foster coupled with Johnson clearing off the line from Sessegnon kept them out; however when Mignolet and Bardsley gave their best Kosicelny/Szczesny impression Sebastian Larsson was cool enough to slot the ball home. I’ve heard the argument in the past that when the chips are down, things don’t run for you – but good players make things run for them, and Blues seem to have taken that knack on board.

3) Foster

At the ground, Seb Larsson was given the MOTM award; personally I’d have seriously considered our keeper for the accolade. Once again, he made some seriously good saves; a couple that were pretty much world-class. Couple that with some good command of the box, and you’ve got the biggest reason we kept them to nil. I’ve consistently said that whilst scoring more goals would be a good thing, keeping them out is essential – because you can’t lose with a clean sheet. The position we’re in now, I’m pretty much certain we’re safe, so picking up odd points from Chelsea and Liverpool will be bonuses now – and if we can shut them out, it’s going to be good for morale in the team.

4) Safety

As regular readers will know, my personal opinion is that 38 points will be enough for survival. I’m still firmly of the belief that is true; to reach 40 points Blackpool need to take 7 from their last 5 games; West Ham need 8 from their last five. I can’t see either team doing it – I think the relegation places will be three from Wolves, West Ham, Blackpool, Wigan and Blackburn. If I was pushed, I think it’s going to be West Ham, Blackpool and Wigan to go down; obviously it’s still tight and results could change things rapidly. I hope my intuition is as well-founded as I think it is though.

In short, a massive three points that means the pressure is off for the Chelsea game; a win by two clear goals, a clean sheet and no new injuries that I saw. Life in the Blue half of the city is good, and optimism is back. Long may it continue.

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