Unlucky at the Bridge

Posted by James Whittaker

Our unbeaten run came to an end as we succumbed to a late Chelsea winner on an afternoon when the champions of Europe were, at times, on the ropes, and if we're staying with boxing analogies, were on the canvas plenty too.



I'm naturally annoyed that we came away with nothing but our approach to the game, our intent was so different to last season and we were in the game right until the 95thminute - which is a world away from waving the white flag at 2pm as was the norm last season with a negative team sheet.

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The main talking points are as follows:

Team Selection/Tactics - We started the same side as last week with Cameron coming in for the suspended Wilkinson, and from the off our midfield five were buzzing around Chelsea's danger men, keeping them quiet for the most part as they did with Man City last week. This has to be our shape moving forward as the team continue to look so much more comfortable and with the options we have in the middle I was always confident that whoever was on the ball could use it well.

Cameron - I've been looking forward to seeing Cameron at right back and he showed glimpses of promise with great composure and overlapping runs. He won all of his tackles but lost his proud record of not giving away a foul within minutes as he had to change his game, in this a new position for him. I think he fared well considering and will have learnt a lot from the experience, he certainly didn't disgrace himself and of all our players made the most successful clearances, so the signs are good for his continued inclusion next week.

Adam - This was our first look at Adam on a bigger pitch, away from home against a quick and mobile midfield and he had a mixed game. He started off brightly but seemed to lack the urgency he had shown at home with the roaring Britannia crowd ringing in his ears. His passing accuracy was still good at over 80%, but, of the three central midfielders, he lost the most ground duels. His own half passing accuracy was only 67% compared to Whelan and N'Zonzi who, in comparison, both posted over 90%. He just didn't seem at the races and given he was on a yellow card, the decision to take him off was the right one, it wasn't his day but he'll be back.

N'Zonzi - This was obviously a much harder game for our new midfield destroyer but he still stood out as the pick of the bunch once again with brilliant breaking up of the play and driving the ball forward. He posted an 86% passing accuracy with the best passing of the team in his own half. He also won all of his tackles and of our midfield three, won the most ground duels. With the least unsuccessful touches and the most possessions won in the defensive half he was a picture of near perfection in the middle, as indeed he was last week. Man of the Match.

Crouch vs. Jones - I don't think Crouch had a bad game at all but he was struggling strength wise against the Chelsea defence when holding up play or trying to win the ball on the deck. He showed some good touches but was the player dispossessed the most times and won only 30% of his ground duels as his influence on the game waned. It was the right move to bring on Jones whose strength and athleticism unsettled Chelsea from the second he was introduced. In his short time on the pitch Jones had twice as many shots and did what his predecessor couldn't by hitting the target as well. I think that Jones was better suited to our old system and dare I say looked better suited today in the new one. That may well not be the case at the Britannia, but there was enough evidence today to suggest that he could be the better option away from home when we're not able to push up the pitch as readily.

Overall, there is very little to be down about, I thought Pulis was spot on for the most part and made the changes that needed making positively and promptly. Next week will be interesting as we come up against Swansea in a much more ‘winnable' game, I hope we keep the same formation as despite the headline being we only start with one up front, the difference in possession and influence in the attacking third is huge and at the end of the day, that's all we want.

Vis Unita Fortior

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