After "Good Form?"
After we drew with Huddersfield Town, we went on to win the next two league games against Cardiff City and Bristol City. They were rather dominant affairs, and there was never really any chance of us losing them. Then we played Peterborough United, and boy was I right about that game. I think they had 3 total shots, with the only one they had on goal going in around the 85th minute. Then we continued our winning form, and beat Ipswich Town in a more difficult to watch game than the others. They had just as many shots, if not more than we did, and Marco Silvestri found himself tested all game. After that game, we had the draw with Sheffield Wednesday which I think we should have lost, as we didn't play like a team that were unbeaten in 8 games. Then we beat Birmingham City in one of the dullest affairs of the season. We scored in the second minute and then just parked the bus. I think we ended the game with something like 70% possession, and limited them to a single shot. We then drew with Fulham, and my was that a nail-biter. Even though it ended in a draw, it looked like either team could have easily been 2 goals up at any point in the game. We were lucky to continue our unbeaten run and escape with a draw.
We did suffer some season-ending injuries to two key players: Alex Mowatt and Tyrone Mings. Luckily, we have the depth to cope with these two injuries, but they will be missed nonetheless.
FA Cup Round 6- 3/12/17
Going into this game I wasn't quite sure what result to expect. We had not been beaten since January and we were playing some pretty good football. All that said, we were playing against the defending champions of the Premier League, and they were playing a close to full strength side. Our starting 11 were generally the same, with Ronaldo Vieira stepping in for the injured Alex Mowatt and Enric Saborit stepping in for Tyrone Mings.
Leicester are playing their traditional 4-4-2, with Jamie Vardy and Khouma Babacar heading their attack. Their midfield featured Demari Gray and Riyad Mahrez on the wings, with Bartousz Kapustka and Nampalys Mendy playing centrally. Their back line is probably the only thing in doubt for this game, with Ruben Duarte on the left, Luis Hernandez and Yohan Benalouane in the center, and Rick Karsdorp on the right. Ron-Robert Zieler is their man in front of goal, though he has only played every-so often in the league this season.
We won, and rather soundly at that. We went ahead right at the start of the game with an absolute beauty of a goal from 21 yards out from Liam Bridcutt. They equalized in the 38th minute, and we played out the rest of the half on pretty even footing. It wasn't until the second half that we really started to become dominant, allowing only 1 shot in the whole half as we ran rampant. Leicester were lucky that we only scored the one goal from Jack Barmby, as there was a good opportunity for several more. Leicester can thank Zieler for this mercy.
League Game 37 - 3/18/17
After the win against Leicester, we were on a high. We went into this game against Brighton & Hove Albion with the same starting 11, and absolute belief that we would come away from it with the win. What else could be expected after beating the Leicester in the FA Cup to extend our unbeaten run to 12 games?
I must admit that for the first half hour of the game, I thought we were going to lose, and all this excitement would end. Then we scored towards the end of the half. I was absolutely furious in the dressing room at half time. I told the boys that they were playing like a bunch of ninnies and that they were expected to get all 3 points from this game. Going into the second half, it took them a few minutes to get started, but then they went and scored 3 goals in a span of 15 minutes and I knew we were set. We had gotten the result we needed, and we had managed to catch up with the play-off hunt.
League Game 38 - 3/21/17
This was an important game for us, as we needed to win in order to stay up with the pack at the top of the table. QPR were sitting soundly behind us at mid-table, but if we hit a bad run of form they could catch up rather easily. Only 1 change was made to our starting 11, with Diego Poyet coming in for Ronaldo Vieira. Alex Mowatt has been missed, but the two younger lads are really stepping up to fill in the role.
The game looks a whole lot closer than it actually was, with none of QPR's shots being on target. To extend our unbeaten run to 13 games with this result was truly phenomenal, and one that we can look back on and be pleased with. Winning this game sits us in a much better league position then I could have ever imagined even at the halfway point of the season.
If we are to going to use our league position to our benefit and secure promotion, then we are going to have to play really well against teams that we have either lost to or struggled for draws in previous encounters. I'm not counting us out, I'm just bringing to attention the true difficulty of securing promotion in this situation, especially with the size and proximity of the pack chasing promotion.
On top of the difficult schedule in the Championship, we have drawn Manchester City in the FA Cup Semi-Final. If we were to beat City, then we would look forward to facing either Arsenal or Southampton in the Final. I don't believe we can win, but with as far as we have come this season, and even just in the FA Cup, I won't be discounting anything at this point.
We will wrap up the season in the next episode, so expect it to be significantly longer than usual.
FM fanatic and football pundit