SussexBaggie speaks…disappointing start to 2012
By Site Editor
Updated Thursday, 5th January 2012
Tom Harper reflects on defeats to Everton and Spurs
Since my last blog, we have played two games and suffered two defeats. The first of these came on Sunday at home to Everton, with the second coming on Tuesday at Spurs.
Despite losing both of these games 1-0, my reaction to the two results could not have been more different.
Our performance against Everton was woeful, with the flat atmosphere reflecting what was arguably our worst home performance of the season. The game looked to be heading for a disappointing 0-0 draw as we entered the final five minutes, but a late goal from Victor Anichebe after our only defensive slip-up in the entire game ensured that it was a poor start to 2012 for the Albion.
Roy Hodgson’s reluctance to use his substitutes led to him receiving quite a lot of criticism from Albion fans after the game, with many believing that the introduction of someone like Graham Dorrans or Somen Tchoyi midway through the second half could have helped us win the game.
However, it is also worth noting that Jonas Olsson was added to the growing list of injured players in the lead-up to the game, meaning that Craig Dawson made only his second Premier League start.
Olsson is undoubtedly one of our most important players, but the impressive performance of Dawson alongside the equally reliable Gareth McAuley at the heart of our defence ensured that we continued to look reasonable solid defensively.
Going into the Spurs game, Chris Brunt and Shane Long – two of our most important attacking players – were ruled out due to ankle and back injuries respectively. There has been nothing released so far as to the seriousness of Long’s injury and whether he will have to miss many games, but Brunt is having a second scan on a suspected broken ankle, with Hodgson confirming that it is a serious injury.
These injuries meant that we reverted back to a 4-5-1 formation at White Hart Lane, with a midfield five of Simon Cox, George Thorne, Paul Scharner, Dorrans and Jerome Thomas.
This midfield was coming up against what is undoubtedly one of the best midfields in the Premier League, but appear to have held their own for long periods and certainly not been overrun as I feared when I first saw our team.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend this game, but it sounds as though the back four all impressed, and Thorne deserves a mention for an accomplished performance in central midfield.
One player who is believed to have struggled was Dorrans, who only played last night after being ill earlier in the week due to James Morrison suffering from a slight hamstring injury.
This poor performance comes at the same time as a lot of speculation about his future, with Dorrans being linked with a return to Rangers, although this has been denied by Hodgson whenever he has been asked.
Overall though, I certainly don’t think a 1-0 defeat at Spurs with a predominantly weakened team is anything to be ashamed of and bodes well for the future of the club with the likes of Dawson and Thorne impressing.
Our next game sees us take on Cardiff City at The Hawthorns in the FA Cup on Saturday. I would personally really like to see us go on a cup run this season, whilst acknowledging that staying in the Premier League is more important of course.
We went out in the third round last season to Championship opposition, losing 1-0 at Reading, who also knocked us out the season before that after winning 3-2 at The Hawthorns in a replay following a 2-2 draw at the Madjeski Stadium in the fifth round.
I'm sure Hodgson will play a fairly similar side to the one which started last night, although I would like to see Tchoyi given a chance to show what he can do from the start.
It won’t be an easy game against a side who are doing very well in The Championship, but hopefully the players selected can produce a positive performance and we can progress into the next round!
What players should Hodgson pick for Albion's FA Cup tie against the Bluebirds? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.