Calm After The Storm

Last updated : 17 September 2007 By Jim Bonner
After possibly the hardest start to a Premier League season in history, a start that contained an opening day fixture away to a side on the back of a play-off final win, a game with a team we rarely beat and four games against the big four has finally come to an end.

But how good do we look after those six games? And have we shown enough to justify our ambitions of European football next season?

Let's start off with the performances first shall we?

Our showing at Pride Park was poor in all honesty. The defence was all over the place, too many players had poor games and Derby were playing with their tails up. We were terrible at times yet still got a point, which doesn't bode well for the Rams' future in the Premier League.

That game and the shambolic defensive display at Arsenal have been our worst performances of the season by a distance and the common denominator here is simply awful defending. If we're going to challenge for Europe it's safe to say we're going to have to tighten up away from home.

It's debateable as to what our best performance of the season has been so far.

Some fans will say coming back from a goal down so quickly against Bolton to end up winning comfortably is deserving of the "current best performance" tag. Others who went to Stamford Bridge will say that we outplayed Chelsea on their own patch and we were despereately unlucky not to get something from the game.

Of course, you can't rule out last Saturday's performance where we kept our first clean sheet against Liverpool and should have beaten them too. So you could argue that we've dropped two points there, and dropped two points against Derby after letting a late lead slip so easily.

Given our performances so far this season I'm quietly confident we can sustain a challenge for Europe once again, providing our away form improves.

It's difficult to judge how we'll be away from Fratton Park as we've had to visit newly promoted Derby on the opening day where their performance will be far better than on any other match day. Trips to Arsenal and Chelsea speak for themselves, so Blackburn on Sunday will be a real test of our European credentials.

Is six points from six games a good tally considering the start we were given? I think I would have taken that at the start of the season, although I'm slightly disappointed that we don't have ten points given the points dropped against Derby and Liverpool.

But what do you think? Use the poll located at the bottom of the main page to give your view.