Often Partisan

Anti-football

My reflections on the home game against Stoke City:

1) When you’re wrong, you’re wrong

For most of the second half, I was thinking Zigic needed to be subbed; indeed, when Jerome came on I thought it would be for the lanky Serb rather than Martins. McLeish got it spot on though; whilst Zigic didn’t do much in the game he was the only player who could have put the ball in the net when the occasion arose. In fairness, Zigic’s lack of play was more to do with the way the Stoke backline mahandled him than anything else.

2) Class and Graft

Martins impressed me; whilst he’s not the grafter that Jerome is he’s clearly got a bit of class within him – that moment of magic that can turn the game. Thus it’s ironic that it was a moment of graft that won it for us – Jerome making sure the ball didn’t go out and then putting it back into the mixer when I thought hope had gone. Another grafter was Craig Gardner in midfield; whilst he did give the ball away a few times he chased everything he could and harassed the Stoke players for the ball; Hleb would have been a much better passer but I can’t see him putting in the shift that Gardner did.

3) Stoke are not a football team

I’m glad we mugged them for the points at the end, because Stoke didn’t play football. They’re an ugly, ugly team – a team who were doing their best to get set plays to try and get a goal. Not only that, but they did their best to ensure Blues couldn’t do things quickly – kicking the ball away after every free kick given away. They were snide in the challenge – so often they had arms in the back, or in the air when up for a header and Halsey didn’t see any of it. I hope Pulis was fuming at the defeat, because his team deserved nothing for their unsportsmanlike play.

4) Another clean sheet

Back to back wins and back to back clean sheets equal a good day at the office for Blues. Jiranek and Johnson are looking to be a formidable partnership, and Curtis Davies is going to spend some time on the bench by the looks of things barring injury. Jiranek again showed that he’s just a classy player; not diving in rashly but just stepping in, taking the ball and then passing it forwards. Neither centre back was troubled by Stoke’s bully-boy strikeforce, and both can think tonight that it was a job well done.

5) For once, we deserve to be last on MOTD

All in all, it was a dreadful game; scrappy, in the air, with no real skill or artistry and as such for the neutral it’s not the sort of game that will be given much airtime tonight. However, an ugly win is a win – and three points to us is three points further away from relegation. With two games in hand, we sit 14th and have still a couple of easier games to come. It’s looking up for Blues – let’s hope we can keep the momentum going.

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