Optimal timing and opposition?

The most interesting questions following the 2-1 defeat of Aston Villa is why we did not implode following our 1-0 goal, why we managed to keep up our game for the remainder of the game?

The games of late have been discouraging as the lack of morale and/or belief in our ability and/or game plan has resulted in a mental breakdown as soon as we have something to hold on to or lose. The Sunderland and Fulham games in fresh memory…
When we have nothing to lose however as in the Arsenal game or after the 1-2 goal by Gera in the Fulham game, or after the 2-2 game at Sunderland, we suddenly have nothing to lose and we are able to play football again.

I’m fully aware that this is a general sports phenomenon and everyone that has seen a few games can appreciate the change of face of a game that follows any goal of “importance”. However, as with the flu, the symptoms of the disease can vary significantly. West Ham of late have shown the “full blown picture”.

Why then did we not suffer from this in the Villa game?
The answer is in the timing of the goals as well as in the Villa game plan. Both goals were scored in overtime – not giving us the time for the typical “rebound nervous breakdown”. Zola had the opportunity to install some faith in the troops during the break, sending them out into the second half with a greater belief in themselves and the cause. To be quite honest, there was not that much time to show the signs of a mental breakdown after the brake either as their equalizer came only 7 minutes into the second half and a few of those minutes were used for the penalty debacle (not the save – the call!). Still, during the opening minutes of the game West Ham did not seem to suffer much from post-scoring stress syndrome.
The deduction here must be that we would be in a far better table-position if there were timeouts in football…

But the Villa style of play certainly helped. They did not, for the entire game, put our ball carriers under any significant pressure during the early buildup phase. They focused on cutting off passing opportunities, and even if this was effective in getting the ball back, they regained possession in their own half and they didn’t put the panic installing pressure on Parker, Behrami or Collison.
It can be that Villa was the optimal top 15 opponent for a team with the shakes.


Prince H said...

Thanks for the article!

Prince H said...

I do not think we shold underestimate the impact Zavon Hines had when he came on. Collins and Dunne expected their usual har battle in the air with Cole but instead they all of a sudden had this fast runner with the ball glued to his feet. It could even have affected Villas midfielders.

Joppe - said...

Hines is the hero no doubt and adds a whole new and needed dimension to our game. He will be on the back of my shirt this season.
Franco fed him some nice balls too and Hines will maybe look better with Franco than with Cole on the pitch.
I doubt he was the reason for our apparent boost in morale though. My thanks still goes to timing, Petrov and Sidwell.

Prince H said...

Morale I'm not su sure about, but Energy! And maybe that is the same thing sometimes!