One facet of this season I’ve found to be a bit peculiar is the seeming lack of narrative. Usually by this point in the season the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.
For me, last year was all about Europe. The year before, we watched and wondered about what Roy could do with his first full season at the helm. Three years ago it was about how Sanchez’s reign would fare, and then how can we rectify all the mistakes. 2006-07 seemed fairly anonymous until around when Cookie got sacked. (I wasn’t a fan in 2005-06, so what was your legacy?)
On the surface, this year it seems its been a rebuilding year in everything but label. Roy left, but soon into our season so too (to the IR at least) did our talismanic striker Bobby Zamora . We’re in the relegation scrap, but so is a third of the league. A cup run seems on the table, but a tricky 4th Round draw to Spurs is keeping my optimism down.
Looking at the stats though, one big legacy is our drop in home form, while our away form has conversely improved. See below:
Now, things can obviously go pear-shaped. We still have trips to Anfield, St. Andrews, Old Trafford, and Goodison on the cards. But as things currently stand we’re getting more out of our away games than last year and 2006-07; and only marginally worse than the Great Escape. We’re also practically tied for our best defensive away year yet. It’s a smaller sample size, but we’re scoring more and conceding less under Hughes than Hodgson while away from SW6.
On the flip side, despite the fact we’re not getting much at home, not scoring a lot, and conceding a bit more (most since Sanchez — how much of that comes from the City and Boxing Day nightmares?) we still have matches against Newcastle, Blackpool, Blackburn, and Stoke to hopefully boost those percentages (or ratio? or whatever? I’m bad at math). Oh, and we’ve been without an actual or fit striker for a bit.
[After all, AJ’s goal on Saturday was his first since August 20 2009, in that Europa League qualifier against Perm. You know, the same match where he got cross-checked and subsequently started his long spell on the IR, and hasn’t really been the same since.]
Lastly, the overall scoring rate is about the same it’s always been, and our overall defensive rate is pretty good — buoyed by our away form.
So maybe that’s the narrative?