Firstly, in what could be this blog's most notable curveball, I will hereby ignore the more obviously entertaining narratives of the weekend & focus on Hull:
Remarking that Jelavic's goal was a thing of beauty is the only positive thing I can say about Hull right now.
And it's not something new, as the hangover from last season seems to be continuing. After progressing to the FA Cup semi-finals on 9th March, they finished of their season on autopilot like this:
|Win||Draw||Loss||Goals F||Goals A||Av.Shts F||Av.Shts A|
...which isn't pretty and only saved them by 4 points, a problem that could have been far worse had the other teams not been so irredeemably bad (Cardiff, Fulham), badly managed (Cardiff, Fulham) or sacked their manager far too late (Norwich). Throughout that period they were running an average of -3.5 shots compared to their opposition and in 6 of those games they failed to register 10 shots, which by any measure is very poor.
Now they've started this season superficially well:
|Win||Draw||Loss||Goals F||Goals A|
A generally par record. So what's the problem? In the aftermath of the 2-2 draw against West Ham last Monday, Steve Bruce seemed far too satisfied with the point earned & seemed deferential in his assessment of the game, as if a home point to West Ham was a particularly noteworthy result. Maybe he understood the truth: Hull are still a bad shots team & have been outshot in each and every match this season whilst facing moderate opposition:
|Av. Shots F||Av. Shots A|
The 6 points from 5 matches is a generous return when factored against an average of 8 shots less per game than the opposition; the second worst total in the league, behind Leicester, who are also probably bad, but at least have the excuse of facing better teams than QPR, Stoke, Villa, West Ham & Newcastle.
Their next 8 fixtures feature matches against Man City, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Man. Utd & Southampton & the other matches during that run against Palace and Burnley already hold great potential significance.
No way Jose
I am minded to recall Mourinho sending his team up to face Moyes' Man Utd early last season with an intent to secure a 0-0 draw. Had he known that Moyes' Man Utd was a weakened 3 legged wildebeast rather than a sharp & vicious Fergulion, he may have cut his charges some slack & tried to win. Ultimately the 2 points dropped weren't crucial & I fancy similar thoughts may have been prominent this week in anticipation of facing Man City. In a long season, any away points derived from rivals are likely to be sufficient & in this case I think he's probably right to be happy to take the point.
Amusingly though, being a man and a goal up might not have been part of the plan; to some extent his players appeared unkeen to dominate or stretch City's remaining 10 and the tenacity shown by City in keeping going despite adversity was impressive. Cue that magical Lampard moment & relief amongst casual fans that Chelsea have been reigned back, even if only for this week.
Score Effects at Villa Park
A woefully small 15 shots in the Villa-Arsenal game & a clear indication of the effect decisive and comparatively early domination from a superior side can have upon a game. The 5 minute, 3 goal spurge from Arsenal entirely killed the game as a contest, so much so that they coasted through the rest of the game and neither team had a shot from the hour mark onwards. As such, any statistical conclusions derived from the numbers provided by this game are quite clearly distorted by the very obvious effect that about 1/3 of the game was played at an even score & the other 2/3 with the result already foregone, including a superfluous final 3rd. Regardless, this result was far more akin to what Aston Villa had been projecting prior to the game & may not be the last time this season they find themselves quickly dismantled.
The league conversion rate went up a couple of notches this week, and when we see this table, it makes a deal of sense:
|Sh. on Target||Goals||Opp. Save %|
Come on goalkeepers! Earn your crusts.
- Blog favourite Mile 'The Wall' Jedinak recovered from conceding a penalty last week by DISPATCHING one this. 10T&Is was more like it too.
- Krancjar with a goal, 6 shots, 2 KPs and 5 dribbles
- Blind, De Laet, Adam and Gardner tied with 'The Wall' at this week's league high 10T&Is.
- Vardy with a goal, two assists, 6 KPs and TWO penalties won. Crazy!
- Democracy again for the second week in a row at Man Utd: all their attacking front 5 either registered a goal or an assist.
Over the course of a week, Tottenham have played twice and had one shot on target. Too early to panic, especially after the tidy performance at Sunderland, but one of the main problems prior coaches have had over recent years has been keeping a large squad happy. And right now, the large squad is stuttering & one wonders how a team can put up two very abject performances in a row that do not bear the hallmarks of their coach's ideology: pressing, speed and tenacity. Plus in a team that lacks useful bastards, both Stambouli and Fazio, recently signed and potentially nasty, failed to make the bench.
Aaron Lennon continues to mystify and I fear now only exists as a horrifying mirror to a future Raheem Sterling of what could occur if he ever lost his nerve.
Arsenal (A), Southampton (H) and Man City (A) is a wince inducing forthcoming schedule too.
Thanks for reading!
Do check back next week and recommend to your friends and enemies.
Other articles will follow. A continental article is brewing & may come out in parts or even wait for the inevitable misery of the next international week.