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Salopian

Momentum?

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Every speaks of the 17 games since we beat Wigan in December - it has become something of a mantra for commentators.

 

The period was a struggle for various reasons  and of great concern 

  • We scored 13 goals - an average of  about 0.75 per game
  • We conceded 27 goals - an average of about 1.6 per game
  • We gained  9 points - an average of about 0.5 per game

But the best indicator of achievement this season may be given by the last 3 games

  • We scored 5 goals - an averge of about 1.6 goals per game
  • We conceded 6 goals, an average of 2 per game (but this included the criminal Arsenal game)
  • We gained  4 points, an average of about 1.3 points per game

(Over the season as a whole so far, that is including the bad start and the good run, we have scored 33 goals, or fractionally under 1 per game, and we have conceded 53, or about 1.6 per game. In the process we have gained 38 points in 34 games or about 1.2 per game)

 

Looking at all these, and the last three games seem to be a small sample to judge from admittedly,

  • The last three games exceed our goals scored average for the season 1.6 as against under 1.
  • The last three games have produced an average of 1.3 points per game, as against a seasonal average of 1.2 games.
  • The only respect where the last three games show a worse performance as compared with the season as a whole is in goals conceded,  2 per game as against 1.6 per game, but the Arsenal miscarriage goes far to explain this.

 

To sum up, our recent form has been much better than for the form  for the season up to that point, except in the case of Arsenal. It suggests either that CH has motivated the players better, or they are playing for their lives or a two-striker scenario is paying  dividends. There is momentum, and there is hope. We are currently playing better than at any time since the end of the 10 match run.

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It''s the two strikers. I suspect Hughton has realised his post-Newcastle approach of defend the 0-0 and hope to get over the line was in danger of failing. As we have witnessed since January, the approach simply led to lost momentum and a lack of confidence among the players. I feared that Hughton woud persist with this strategy. However, at the Emirates when the team was announced it was obvious that a change in approach had been signalled. Crudely put, a change from ''try not to lose'' to ''try and win''. This positivity led to our victory against Reading. Hopefully, the new approach will be continued against Stoke and Villa.

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It''s a fair comment.  There has been a big improvement in getting 5 goals over the 3 games when previously scoring had become a big struggle.

 

Also if the lino hadn''t awarded the pen to Arsenal, at 85 minutes they were looking out of ideas so we''d have probably won that game with a clean sheet.  Who can say for sure, but they weren''t looking threatening and I was certainly beginning to feel we were going to come away with the 3 points when the decision came out of the blue.  So the 3 goals against us in that game are an unfair reflection IMO.

 

Definitely performing better and I hope we can carry it into the Stoke game and come away with a win or draw.

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Agreed with your momentum theory - but as an aside to this "17 game" stat, we''ve only lost 3 in 11, and the commentators never mention that.

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I think you need to look into the greater context of ''momentum''.

I think a lot of the staying power and success of last season was momentum built up over two previously very successful seasons.

In many ways the two quick promotions never gave us a lot of chance to build a squad in the same way other teams sometimes can. As a result last summer we still had a number of players from both the League 1 and Championship campaigns that were signed to establish us in the Championship and then move on.

I think Lambert knew that this season would be tough for us, we''d need to almost start from scratch. Yes we had some players that you would perhaps class as ''inbetweeny'' types of players. Eg players that could do a job in a low level premiership team or a higher level championship team and a couple of premiership capable players.

That much change, and after one season of survival, we were always going to be up against it. When was the momentum going to run out? When were players true levels going to be found? Did we have the squad to pluck up, dig in and battle through it?

Hughton took on the challenge knowing full well that unless we tightened up defensively we could be on a hiding to nothing this season. It was vitaly important that we were more resilient, had better battling qualities and had a platform on which to grow next season.

The real test for Hughton will be this summer. By my reckoning the following players in the squad are more than likely to be here next season:

GK: Ruddy, Bunn

DF: Whittaker, Martin, Turner, Bassong, R.Bennett Garrido

MF: Snodgrass, Tettey, Howson, Johnson, Pilkington.

STR: RVW, Becchio, Holt, Kamara.

Possible leavers: Fox, Barnett, Surman, E.Bennett, Ayala.

Out of contract: C.Martin, Ward, Jackson, Tierney, Camp.

Going by that we could have space for up to 8 new players in addition to RVW. Obviously that depends on some of the possible outs and perhaps I am being harsh on Surman and E.Bennett but after two seasons in the prem is what we wanted/expected of them now done?

Hughton''s real challenge after safety (which is almost upon us) this season is to get this squad into shape so it is capable of competing more often and throughout the season.

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