It’s tempting to explain away this desperately disappointing result by pointing out once again that our strikers aren’t up to much.
We bossed it. Absolutely bossed it. An infinite (stats courtesy of opta) number of goal-line clearances and ridiculously close shaves. Dominance in possession. A comedy goalkeeper – for once not ours. And a consolation goal that only served to demonstrate that when the chips are really down, when it really matters, you can rely on our strikers to do it. Twenty five minutes too late. Except for Didier Zokora, who you can’t rely on at all.
But our strikers going on strike doesn’t tell the full story. There was also a combination of freakishly bad luck (even if our front-men couldn’t hit a barn door, nor could anyone else) and particularly careless defending.
An absurdly weak penalty given away by Bassong after a comfortable opening quarter of an hour. Benoit going to sleep – he didn’t earn his money last night. It sounds absurd given the final score but we were so clearly superior to this Blackpool team that it was as if we felt the need to shoot ourselves in the foot. Repeatedly. And with an unerring accuracy that should shame Defoe.
If only we could have frustrated Blackpool at the back, we could have been slightly less desperate and more productive ourselves going forwards. It was not to be.
In between defensive lapses and amidst endless blunt attacks, there was a two minute spell which should have changed the game. Pienaar was brought down by the last man. It would have been a harsh red card for Ian Evatt. It would also have been a correct one. And then they went up the other end and scored a clearly offside goal. Incidentally it never ceases to amaze me how many ex professional footballers in the commentary box cannot spot offside even on replays. Andy Hinchcliffe (it’s me, Cathy…) claimed it was ‘clearly onside’. Why this should annoy me so much I don’t know, but it did. So there.
Anyway, those kind of decisions happen. We should have had plenty in the tank to get back into the game. Our serene control of midfield only magnified our other failings more than usual. Eventually Benoit’s mad moment put us all out of our misery. When Pav scored a lucky consolation goal from nothing it felt like we were being made fun of.
A great night for Chelsea all round. They might not need to man up if we continue to play as if we’re a man down. With Steffen Freund up front, we effectively are. Paul Robinson has had more prolific league seasons than this. Still – lovely brace against Charlton.
Ultimately this is not a game worth analysing in any great detail. There’s no mystery to what’s lacking. Firepower, and concentration. Last night was Spurs in ludicrous caricature. We need strikers but there’s nothing we can do about the players we haven’t got until the summer. We just have to keep our fingers crossed that the key players we have got come back soon and stay fit.
Last night can happen to a team with glaring weaknesses up front very occasionally, but even Tottenham can’t be that profligate in front of goal again. All we can do is dust ourselves down and try to re-find form. Get back to grinding out results when we next play, in a couple of months or so. We’ll have forgotten about this game by the time we head up to Wolves.
And we won’t know whether this result matters until the end of the season.
Still. What a horrible night. We fluffed our lines. A week and a half where I will avoid looking at the league table. But we’re still well in the mix. We are. We are [head between legs, rocking slowly back and forth in the corner of a bare, starch white room]. We are…