Here! Have some points!
It’s easy to sit here and criticise, of course.
So here goes.
Why on earth did we sit back and (seemingly) play for a 0-0 draw against a fragile team who – let’s face it – we match up very well against?
When Swansea scored (a fluke, but a fluke that was absolutelydeserved) Fulham woke up and attacked, and for half an hour gave Swansea a relative pasting. We might have had 2-3 in that period, so hard were Swansea finding it to get any kind of momentum back. We spread the play well down the flanks (Kelly and Riise both helping out), we manipulated the ball well in the approach to the penalty area, and did everything but score (an exaggeration).
Chances, chances, chances. Michael Vorm saved a few, we missed a few. They weren’t great chances, but Fulham’s play went from 10mph to 80mph in a jiffy. No wonder they looked a bit bewildered in the final third: changing speeds that dramatically is hard to do and not generally to be recommended.
Then of course we did find a breakthrough. Kerim Frei wiggled into the area and got himself upended, resulting in the penalty kick required to bring about justice and a point.
Who steps up? Clint Dempsey. Last seen in this position making a hero of Petr Cech. Vorm – after a fairly unsporting delay – made the most of Dempsey’s indecision and saved well.
Thus making a villain of our best player. Dempsey, of course, was keen to take the kick because he’d already contributed an own goal to Swansea’s cause. He was the senior man out there and certainly isn’t a terrible choice as a penalty taker, but John Arne Riise or even Andy Johnson might have been more sensible takers. All of which is to second-guess(what a misused phrase that has become) rather more than is helpful.
Swansea are a pleasant enough side, a really good side to be fair, but just as we always play well against Arsenal, we should have been looking to knock the stuffing out of a passing team not known for the sort of ruggedness that usually undoes us. Swansea didn’t monopolise possession, did defend quite well, but we really didn’t test them at all until that first goal.
I’ve been calm enough this season, ups and downs treated as the imposters they presumably are, but this defeat just felt wasteful. Our approach was too negative, our play a little jaded. We looked fantastic when chasing the game, all kinds of neat buildup, but it was too late. Swansea scored another with a near post volley from a corner. (!)
All of which raises questions about the state of the team. Away defeats are par for the course and we have to learn to play without our senior men, but this was a stupid, stupid defeat. That we threw away the late chance to make things okay (as against Everton) makes things even more frustrating.
(kicks the cat* and stomps off)
*there is no cat, and if there was, I wouldn’t kick it.