Hello and happy weekend. Two blogs in a week. We are spoiling you. And there’ll be a new podcast soon, I promise.
I don’t think Wednesday went quite according to our plan. I mean, I’m not certain, I don’t know the plan, but if it included parts about missing a penalty, getting an injury to a key player, getting our ‘keeper sent off and having less than 25% possession in the second half, then it was a pretty shitty plan in the first place and I’d be wanting to have words with whoever it is who formulates our plans because that was not one of his better efforts. Unless it’s a long term plan that involves us then going to Munich and spanking the fuck out of them. But it may not.
The result in midweek leaves us in a position where we need to bounce back better than Alan Partridge after he drove to Dundee without any shoes on, gorging himself on Toblerone. It’s hard not to look at Wednesday in a negative light but, without meaning to engage in football’s worst cliché, there were some positives to take out of the game:
All in all, given the way the media talked Bayern up, it could have been a lot worse. To only concede two, one of which was an absolute wonder strike that no keeper could have saved, even if maybe we should have closed Kroos down better, and the other of which was due to our own stupidity rather than inherent defensive weakness is simultaneously encouraging (they didn’t break us down and create many clear opportunities to score) and frustrating (despite the former point they still scored twice).
But all of that is already history because we’ve got to pick ourselves up, shake the dust off and take on Sunderland at home tomorrow in the league. They’re currently involved in a relegation scrap, sitting 18th but with a game in hand on West Brom and equal with them on 24 points. They’ll come into the game with increased confidence, given that we worked our holes off on Wednesday for no reward and might be suffering from a bit of tiredness/depression. However, this is no time for excuses. We have to win this game, if only to restore our fragile confidence, which has undoubtedly been dented by some bad results in a tough run of games.
We’ve been lucky that both our closest title rivals had to play each other and that City then failed to win after losing to Chelsea because with just 1 point from our last two games, we could have found ourselves massively off the pace. However, we are still in it and a win tomorrow would be the first step on the road to regaining the momentum we had generated after the loss to City and the draw against Chelsea in December.
As we’ve mentioned far more often that we’d like to over the last few weeks, Mesut Özil has come in for a lot of stick, particularly in the wake of the Bayern game, with people accusing him of not trying. First of all, the distance covered stats from Wednesday tend to suggest otherwise, only 2 other players covered more ground then him. Secondly, I think it’s a bit of stretch for him to perform to his highest capability playing as an auxiliary left back for a team with 10 men playing against what must be the most metronomically brilliant/dull passing team in the game right now.
That’s not to say I don’t think we should expect more – Özil has not been anywhere near his best recently but to expect miracles from him is setting yourself up to be disappointed. I know it sounds like excuse making but he doesn’t have the kind of runners in front of him that his game thrives on and it’s also his first season in English football. When you compare the treatment Özil is getting to that of Roberto Soldado, who is a striker and missed an open goal from four yards out on Thursday night, it’s something of a mystery. Maybe it’s because everyone thinks Spurs are shit. I think, though, that people have very high expectations of Mesut, expectations that aren’t being met but patience is key. I have total faith that he will come good in time.
But this isn’t the time for us to sit around moping, complaining and feeling sorry for ourselves. Our recent dip in results seems to have caused some people to lose sight of where we actually are – in the last 16 of the Champions League, in the quarter finals of the FA Cup and one point off the top of the league table. Not bad for a team that most people wrote off as also rans before the start of the season, if you ask me. We can be successful this season – but we won’t achieve that by navel gazing. Onward and upward.