Away Day Blues
In our last four away games we have conceded 8 goals and only scored 2. I have noticed that we have employed a more negative style of play away from home this season whereas on our own turf we bomb forward with purpose far more often. They do say that attack is the best form of defence and our results would reflect that to a degree as I can't seem to remember us ever nicking a win in recent memory. Whenever we have won in recent times, we have done so by going forward rather than sitting back and defending.
So why does Harry feel the need to play such a negative game away from Fratton Park?
Against Chelsea we started the better side by being positive and then when we switched to 4-5-1 we allowed Chelsea heap on the pressure on us and eventually they got a couple of quick goals. When we went back to 4-4-2 and we forced to attack, we looked a much better side. Against United we never looked like scoring until we were forced to bring on a second striker and only then did we start creating chances. I noticed that against Spurs and Newcastle we were defending deeper and looked like we were happy to sit and take a draw, without showing too much attacking prowess.
In fact it feels like that Harry has employed negative tactics away from home all season. We sat back against a Man City side who struggle to score goals and managed to get a draw and whilst the tactics worked perfectly against Middlesbrough, they were truly awful that day and our only other away win has come against the current bottom side in the Premiership.
I feel that if we just showed a bit more ambition in our play away from home then we could pick up some more points. Of course I could be completely wrong considering that United and Chelsea have better players than us and it's arguable that Spurs and Newcastle do too. However, if the ball spent more time in the opposition's half rather than letting them come onto us, then surely there's less chance of us conceding as the ball would have to take more time to get to our goal. (Unless you're a long ball side, mention no names.)
I don't think that it's co-incidental that whilst David James gets rave reviews for his brilliant performances away from home, he virtually never gets noticed at Fratton Park. Out of the 4 goals we have conceded at home, 3 have resulted from a corner whilst the other was just a bloody good strike from Kevin Nolan.
I'm happy for people to voice their own opinion and correct me if they think I am wrong but I believe the main reason why the opposition at Fratton Park this season rarely get chances to score is because they're too busy in their own half of the pitch trying to get the ball back. If we have the quality to do this at home then why can't we do it away from home? Does the intimidation factor play that big a part? I'm not sure, I suppose that is another article in itself!
What I do know is that I would rather see us have a go and lose 2-0 away from home then go down with a whimper like we did at Newcastle on Sunday. Myself and many other fans pay good money to watch our side so the least we should expect is for the players to try and not just to sit back. Think back to the away days of the latter stages of last season. The players knew that they had to win and therefore bombed forward at any given opportunity. I know it's gung-ho, but it can often surprise the home side and that tactic certainly worked at West Ham and Fulham.
So c'mon Harry. Let's go up to Anfield and show some ambition and enterprise. If we sit back and/or play 4-5-1 I believe we are asking for defeat, or at least making it harder for ourselves.