A lot of people have been quick to congratulate our defence for the part that they’ve played in what has been a pretty damn good start to the new season.
On the surface of it some may feel that the compliments are warranted. I mean here we are, four games in, having only conceded one goal in the league. Can you really ask for more?
There is such a thing as being blinded by statistics. Many people will quickly point out to me that we have the join best defensive record in the Premier League. I will of course counter that by suggesting that an awful lot of luck has come into the equation, and that it’s that luck which has played more of a part than our supposedly rock solid defence.
Not that I’m complaining of course. To a certain extent you need a bit of luck on the football pitch, and God knows how many times we’ve had luck go against us in the past. In fact I remember at one time last season where we every shot against us seemed to end up being deflected past Tim Krul in goal.
I guess it all boils down how you define a decent defensive display. A clean sheet can cover up a whole host of issues, and to me that is what is happening right now. Even our players, namely Steven Taylor and Danny Simpson, are in the press lauding our defensive solidarity which some may say they are quite within their rights to do.
Whilst keeping these clean sheets should be praised, it should also be recognised that we’ve been lucky, very lucky, at times. It’s not as if we’ve snuffed out the opposition attacks and limited their chances to perhaps one or two in each game.
In quite a lot of games we’ve had our backs against the wall. Against Arsenal we probably just about deserved a clean sheet, but against Sunderland we were lucky not concede from a succession of chances for the home side. Fulham was much the same and obviously we all know what happened at QPR the other night. Against any one of those teams it could have been so different.
To me a solid defensive display means that we restrict the chances created against us. The reality is that we just haven’t done that. We’ve made a decent fist of last ditch tackles and clearances off the line, but if we were really solid defensively then we wouldn’t have had to be doing those last ditch tackles and clearances so often.
In conclusion, and please don’t think that I’m looking to pick fault with things, I’m really happy that we’ve made the start we have, and that we’ve somehow ended up with a very very good defensive record to show for it. I just don’t think that our defence is playing as well as it’s being made out to be.
Does anyone else agree? Or am I just being a grumpy old Hector?