Complacency, humbugs and windows.
Well for those of us who were leaving Wigan last week a tad disappointed with our draw I'm sure there were plenty more who were absolutely gutted with Saturday's defeat to Blackpool.
It was a strange old game, Blackpool played quite well and kept the ball nicely but Stoke had a bucket load of opportunities that could have easily won us the game, never mind earn us a point. The bizarre thing about the chances we created was that they came amidst a really lacklustre performance from the Potters.
When we are on our game we don't give players time to think and really keep the opposition on their toes. Sadly all we did against the Tangerines was to let their main man Charlie Adam have the freedom of the Britannia Stadium. Now don't get me wrong, Adam is a very tidy player with an eye for a pass but he isn't that quick and if any of our lads had "stood" on him I'm sure he wouldn't have had even half the influence on the game he subsequently had.
I'm hoping that this latest showing from arguably TP's strongest team (barring Danny Collins who I just can't see as a Stoke player) was nothing more than a blip and not related to any sort of complacency. During the build up to the game TP mentioned that we had to remain focussed but in fairness to the players no matter what is said, it must be more difficult to raise your game against (no disrespect) Blackpool than say in our game against Liverpool a few weeks ago.
Most Stokies are fully aware that much of our success has been built upon the lads doing the basics and in more recent times then letting our quality players take control of the game. If we don't play at 100mph and really get at teams we look a shadow of ourselves. If any manager will be able to get into the players' heads that complacency will not be tolerated, it's TP so hopefully we will see a better attitude in our remaining fixtures over the festive period.
Talking of Christmas, I'm sure I'm not the only Stokie saying "bah humbug" to Yuletide games as we continue to go through our third December in Premier League campaigns without so much as a solitary win to show for our efforts. It's certainly hard to explain such a run but looking at our fixtures during the remainder of 2010 there are certainly no obvious "gimmees" to break the sequence. Our trip to the Emirates next week doesn't look a likely place to break our duck but given the likely hysteria that will engulf Arsenal fans due to Ryan's appearance you just never know. One thing that I am positive about however is that our young centre half will have absolutely no fear about the trip to the Gunners as he is made of much sterner stuff. He's a great lad and a strong character but the incident clearly got to him as he was upset that the challenge had resulted in Ramsey sadly breaking his leg. That said a few blokes putting their lattes down long enough to shout obscenities at him will not affect our skipper in the slightest.
Hopefully we'll manage to secure some sort of result against Arsenal and we can collect some useful points over the Christmas programme to prove that complacency is not on the agenda at the Brit. If there is one thing that will however keep the lads on their toes it is the imminent opening of the January transfer window. We aren't a million miles away from where we can realistically expect to be but there are a couple of keys areas that require improvement. We desperately need a new left back and we could certainly do with a bit of guile as well as the graft we already have in the middle of the park. These are two areas of the team that have required surgery for quite some time but I think there is a growing concern amongst some Potters' fans that the gaffer doesn't see we have a real issue in those positions.
We could also do with some cover for both of the wide areas as well as right back. Whenever Wilko is unavailable it seems daft to have to remove possibly our most consistent player in Robert Huth from his natural position and it certainly weakens our hand.
Let's hope we can get a result next week at the Emirates. Hopefully Ryan's appearance there doesn't cause the fixture to resemble a panto as I'm sure Arsene Wenger would be only too happy to fill the role of Widow Twankey.