Like a Sieve

Alright.  I haven’t had a post in a while so here I go.  I was inspired after reading an elsevilla.com post (great blog, even hindered by my limited spanish http://elsevilla.com/actualidad/72023-mas-de-40-anos-sin-recibir-tantos-goles).  and in the post they point out two things which i probably knew, but didnt quite click with.  1) we have allowed the third most goals of la liga.  and 2) we have let in more goals at this point in the season than at the same time in the season we were last relegated.

So what the hell is going on?  Our defense was pretty respectable if not good the last two years.  Why such an total collapse?  I think there are a number of possible reasons and would love all of your thoughts on them.  I’m just conjecturing and have barely gotten to watch any matches this year, so I’d love the thoughts of those of you who have.  Here are the possible explanations I can come up with…

1) Goalie: Is Palop done?  We love him.  But our love doesn’t change the fact that he’s old and no longer the keeper he was.  His howler last match sounds like it was one for the ages.  Is Varas the answer to take over?  He’s definitely looked good at times.

Palop has a 68.5% save percentage to Varas’s 64.3%.  I’ve actually never really looked at that stat before, so I’m not sure what else to compare it to and I don’t have time right now to dig deeper…  But additionally Palop has a 1.54 GAA to Varas at 2.06…  But if you cut Varas some slack and ignore the 5-0 ass whooping from Barcelona, he actually has a GAA of 1.30…  So who knows.  But Palop has not been the dominant keeper we’ve seen other years.

2) Defenders: Is it the defense?  In short… yes.  But how so?  And why?  Was Squillaci so critical to this team that his departure sent us into a tailspin?  Was it Drago?  That guy wasn’t healthy for much of last season either.  Dabo has seemed great at moments and then a liability at others.  Caceres is obviously in the dog house and I’ve been more impressed with Alexis going forward than defending where he’s gotten burned on a number of occassions (particularly marking his man).  And Navarro…  I’ve never been enamored with him.  While Escude isn’t getting any better either.

3) Holding mids: We all love Zokora.  But is he no longer being the dominant middle of the park presence he has been in the past?  Can others weigh in on this?  Early returns on Medel make it sound like he could be good, but we’ve always taken this position as a strength and I’d hesitate to pin our defensive woes on the DM.

4) Tactics: If its not the personnel, is it the tactics that Manzano has chosen?  Are wing mids leaving us to exposed to counterattacks on the flanks?  It’s not like we’re playing all out attacking football…  Is he in some other way leaving us unexposed that my untrained tactical eye can’t see?

5) Bad Luck: Or is it just bad luck.  Are these guys good enough, the tactics more or less correct, and we’ll put our worries to rest against Porto?

I have no idea.  I’m just procrastinating from work and figured I’d share my thoughts.  But I’d love people’s observations.

Hope you’re all well.  Beat Porto.  Please.  Seriously.  Give me some reason to keep paying attention to this team this season…