I’m willing to take the Hull game out of the equation, as the whole team was lousy and I think we can dismiss it as a one off. But the games against particularly Norwich and West Ham should have been games we were looking to keep easy clean sheets in.
We now have one clean sheet in thirteen games, our one success at Anfield against Fulham last month. Again, like the two recent home matches, this was a game where we should have been targeting a clean sheet, which we managed to achieve with a degree of comfort.
With us scoring so many goals as a rule this season, you could forgive us for letting the odd goal in here and there. But with three of our next four games on the road against Tottenham, Manchester City and Chelsea, we can ill afford to ship goals in tight matches.
With these three games (which sandwich a home game against Cardiff, who are not to be trifled with) you would think that a lot of our hopes for the rest of the season will be established. A few good results and we will begin 2014 in a great position. A couple of losses and we could well be 7th or 8th and all the positivity that 2013 has by and large brought the club will be forgotten about.
I feel sorry for Mignolet, who has had an excellent season but struggles to keep the scoreline at 0 when his and the rest of the team’s performances deserve much more.
It is also troubling that we keep shipping goals out of nowhere. The two games this week have seen goals come from out of the blue at points of the game where we are in total control. These sloppy goals aren’t costing us at the moment, but if we switch off in any of our festive games, we will get punished. It is highly unlikely that we will go and score three or four goals at Spurs or City or Chelsea.
Troublingly enough, I am convinced that the manager doesn’t yet know his best back four. Until he learns what that is, I think we will continue to leak goals as that generally is what happens to unsettled defences. One thing I will say for certain though is that I think Sakho should be part of any best back four.
With such a key time lying ahead for us, we can ill afford to give teams a leg up by letting in soft goals. Conceding less goals is the best way for us to get through this awful Christmas time – because we have no problems scoring.