Lassitude

Adrian at the Carling Cup final at Wembley in 2011

Birmingham City 0 – Millwall 0

Saturday, November 28th 2020

Much like the weather, this was dull and hard to see. I guess that the smart money would have been on a nil-nil, given both side’s strength in defence and paucity in attack.

Another game and another change of formation. This time a 5-3-2/3-5-2 kind of thing with Sanchez playing unexpectedly deep, often picking the ball up off the defenders to try and instigate attacks. This wasn’t a winner as he only looked dangerous when he was out wide in his usual space.

The change in formation did mean that we had our first chance to see Leko in a central forward position and, especially in the first half, he looked the most likely to unlock Millwall’s defence with his movement and dribbling ability.

Jed Wallace provided a similar threat for a Millwall side who didn’t trouble Etheridge until bringing on Smith on the hour and playing it long and for dead-balls. One smart save from a Murray Wallace overhead kick a couple of minutes from time following a free-kick was the most that Etheridge had to do all afternoon.

Blues matched Millwall’s lack of attacking threat throughout. The ball in from wide provided the best of the chances. A nice move involving Leko and Sanchez on 39 saw Colin swing one in which was just too high for Jukey to get the right contact. This, though, was about the only example of the wing-backs getting forward and getting ball into box in the whole game.

“Instantly forgettable.”

The second half followed the pattern of the first with neither side having the creativity to break down the opposition defence. But most of it was unentertaining midfield stodge.

Blues did try their last fifteen power play as Bela replaced the tiring Leko. A couple of half-chances came and went, but neither side deserved to win this drab game.

Instantly forgettable.

Joys

  • Leko’s pace and dribbling
  • Solid at the back – again
  • Clean sheet
  • Another Etheridge point saving save.

Sorrows

  • Very little going forward – again
  • Sanchez playing too deep to be effective
  • Missed the few chances we did create
  • Reluctance to use options off the bench

Player ratings

Etheridge – 7

Virtually redundant until great save from Wallace’s overhead kick with a couple of minutes to go. That kind of concentration and readiness is the sign of a good goalkeeper.

Colin – 6

Apart from one cross in the last quarter, pretty anonymous. Expect more from such a quality performer.

Pedersen – 6

Main thing he did was miss a good headed chance late on. Solid defensively, not a lot going forward.

Friend – 7

Steady, calm and influential back in a centre-half position.

Roberts – 6

Consistently solid. Best when he keeps things simple. Needs to give the ball to someone else to get it out of defence rather than using the big diagonal, which is becoming as effective as his long throw.

Dean – 7

Renaissance continues. Had Millwall’s forwards under control throughout.

Sunjic – 6

If he’s going to play in midfield with S-J then he’s got to play more box to box, rather than as a defensive midfielder or the whole thing gets bogged down in midfield. Shows he can do it when we move into this slightly strange last quarter of an hour power play we’ve employed in the last few games.

San-Jose – 5

Some really poor short passing for such a good player. Needs to become more of an influence on the side, raising the tempo and getting the ball forward quicker.

Sanchez – 6

Played surprisingly deep and looked more likely to give the ball away in a dangerous position as he was to prompt things going forward. A failed experiment?

Leko – 7

Lively, particularly in the first half. Looks the forward most likely to unlock opposing defences at the moment.

Jutkiewicz – 6

Out of form, out of sorts and with the keyboard warriors on his back. But, as with Dean and Roberts, it’s too early to write off a seasoned professional having a bad time, especially when he’s scored almost 50 for your club and is one of the leaders of the team.

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