I write this match report before the game is over, at 83 minutes to be precise! Why is this? Ill tell you; as soon as the second Boro goal went in, the game was over. From the first minute we were awful. Almunia made a mistake coming to meet Aliadiere with Toure in close company. Toure did not need to make a challenge but may have been confused by the rashenss of the keeper. Downing swept home the penalty and we were on the back foot from then on. One would have thought this would kick us into action but it didnt. Just like midweek we failed to create any chances of note and Boro went and got the killer goal on 74 minutes.
So what is wrong all of a sudden? Is it the fact we are in December? The bogey month? Maybe. We have only played one half of real football in this month (away at Villa) and right now we look in trouble. The defence that has been so solid suddenly looks nervous and shaky. For some reason the defence has become stretched and mistakes seem to be happening all across the back 5. We lack creativity in midfield and decision making up front is poor. It reminds me of the period after we lost the 49-unbeaten run; we went and battered Villa senseless with our football and then after that struggled – ring a bell?
With Hleb, Cesc and Flamini out, the midfield has been very poor. Once again Eboue went missing and left Rosicky as the only creative spark in the whole team. He had a few good moments but nothing worked for him. Diarra worked hard but for me Gilberto has lost it. He strolls through games and is off the pace. He does nothing to aid the defence, nothing to help the attack. He gives away sloppy free-kicks and is not the same player. Flamini added bite to the team this year and when he has been out we have lacked something; teams are now able to bully us once again.
I interrupt here – we have scored, 2-1 but still all over as the final whistle goes. It had to be Rosicky – the only guy that looked like he could do something today.
Hleb and Fabregas are our main playmakers and the difference they make is now clearer than ever. As soon as Hleb went off away at Villa the downfall began. We did not concede but had nothing going forward. Then, as soon as Flamini was ruled out of first team action, goals and chances against us came a plenty. This is no coincidence, these players are simply so important. Add Cesc to these two and we are missing our three most crucial players this season. We need them back asap, next sunday is a must return for them.
I worry about Eduardo, I really do. He was played in his position today and was awful. His decisions were slow and his passing sloppy. It made no difference playing up front. He does not seem to fit into the system at all and needs plenty more adapting before he is ready to start big games. Even David Pleat – not the most enthralling of commentators – saw that Edaurdo and Adebayor were not working together. There was no cohesion and they were too far apart. I feel the Togo man does not like playing with the Croat. Adebayor worked hard and was off it today but we know what he can do, Eduardo I am still waiting on to answer some questions. Bendtner came on and seemed to make a slight difference in that I saw him on the ball. Even Theo showed more urgency. Something needs to change if our injured players are not back for Sunday.
Yes, credit does go to Boro, but we were shocking. They closed us down but we did not string passes together. I lost count of how many long punts forward either went out of play or straight to a red shirt. The leaders of this team need to get together with the manager and sort out what is going on. Our season is under threat right now in the next month, players need to stand up and be counted.
Eboue, Gilberto, Eduardo all need to be dropped NOW, even if Hleb, Cesc, Flamini and Van Persie are not back.