23/11/2009

Three points a must on Saturday?

Hull will arrive at Eastlands this coming Saturday having won only once in their last twenty away Premier League attempts. So far this term they've picked up just a single point from six games on the road, though given Burnley's record on their travels before coming here a fortnight ago we should possibly not take that lightly. The occasion marks the first of three successive home fixtures in just over a week. How we perform and what results we gain against Phil Brown's side, Arsenal, and Chelsea will perhaps give us the clearest suggestion yet of how the season might pan out.

Though our main problem has been conceding goals, i'm not sure that paints the whole picture. The tempo of a side is often set by its attack, and without Robinho we've certainly looked more pedestrian. As hard-working as several have been, they're not all capable of that moment of magic, something out of the ordinary to change a game in the blink of an eye. For all the stories about him wanting to be elsewhere, he'll rightly come back into the side when fit, and though questions still remain about his consistency over a season, i can't think of anyone better to boost confidence ahead of the tricky run.

Without going as far as saying Saturday's game is must win it represents the best possible chance to snap out of this sequence of draws. Anything less than three points against Hull, and qualification for the semi-finals of the League Cup against an Arsenal side likely to be weakened, and the few asking questions might see their ranks swelled. It's been a terrific start to the season, but this, the trio of home ties then away games at Spurs and Bolton, is our trickiest run so far, and will provide an early sign of how serious or capable we are of making progress.

Quite simply, teams with serious hopes of breaking into the top four, or at least giving them a good run for their money, have to win their home games, and certainly those against opposition outside of the big four. Coming away with a draw against Fulham in itself wasn't massively disappointing, moreso the manner in which we blew the lead. They're a very good side, who always give us a good game and given our recent record against them a point wasn't an awful result. The Burnley draw however was, neither the outcome nor the performance were what we now have to expect.

The negative feeling about this run of stalemates, for me at least, is mainly down to that one result. The draws at Villa and Liverpool are respectable, even if we were the stronger side in the second half of both games. The point at Wigan has to be seen as one gained in the circumstances, and whilst Birmingham might struggle to stay up, they're no pushovers on their own patch, and given the host of chances they had we were perhaps lucky to come away with a share of the spoils.

Burnley at home, however, all respect to them, they outplayed us, should never result in anything other than three points; two goals scored and nothing on the board away from Turf Moor beforehand says as much. What we have to do now, though, is get back to normal as soon as possible, our excellent home record up and going again and not let a couple of wobbles put us off our stride. Everyone seems a touch nervous at the minute, expecting further disappointments to come, we must make as big a statement as possible, and the upcoming games give us a real chance to do that.

There can be no mistakes or excuses on Saturday, we have to go out and beat Hull and preferably beat them well. We should be able to do that with any eleven we put out, but the return of the little Brazilian would come as an added boost. Just his presence in the team, at home at least, raises expectations and confidence, not just in the stands but amongst his colleagues. We've missed him, and even if not 100% fit i'd play him, providing the risk of a recurrence isn't too great, of course.

If we could win on the weekend, get past Arsenal, and pick up something against likely champions Chelsea, we'd be in a great position, and confidence raised hugely, but the failure to get back to winning ways, or progress into the semi-finals of the League Cup, or both, will no doubt lead to more silly speculation in the press and chins down on the pitch.

I can imagine there may be some sort of domino effect over those fixtures, with them being in such quick succession and all, and infront of probable sell-outs of mostly Blues. A good result against the East Yorkshiremen and we'll fancy our chances of making our first semi-final in nearly thirty years. Anything less than three points and the mood around Eastlands a week on Wednesday could well be a bit more downcast.

3 comments:

  1. You will have to excuse me as I only read the headline due to being half asleep still lol I will read it all later on, but for now it is an absolute must that we win against Hull.

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  2. There can be no excuses - just as Ireland said before start of the season. We just have to win at Saturday, in other way some kind of negative domino effect can appear.
    I'm not sure that Robinho will come as an boost, but surely he should have a chance to prove his ability and usefulness to MC side.

    Greets from Poland and Polish MCFC fans ;)
    mcfc.pl
    angamoss.blox.pl

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