Though the concession of six goals in two games is of concern to Gary Cahill, he does not consider it to be indicative of our defending away from home this season.
Prior to last Wednesday’s victory at the Stadium of Light we had let in just five goals in our six away games in the league, making our recent defensive frailties on the road all the more surprising. The England centre-back believes that, against both Sunderland and Stoke, luck has deserted us when the ball has run free in the penalty area.
‘Away from home we need to try and keep it tight,’ Cahill said. ‘I feel like we have done that most of the season.
‘We have kept a lot of clean sheets this season, but in the last two games we’ve given away too many silly goals, which is unlike us really. Against Sunderland there were a lot of unfortunate incidents from set-pieces where we didn’t make major mistakes. It just fell to them and they put it in.
‘The first goal we conceded against Stoke was disappointing. I thought Pete [Cech] was going to come for it and he didn’t, then I should have been tighter. They weren’t major mistakes but they’re little things that can happen in a game.’
In his overall assessment of another exciting contest – but one which, unlike the two successes against Southampton and Sunderland, didn’t end with three points being collected – Cahill highlighted one incident that set the tone for the rest of the match.
‘We had a few chances and created quite a lot in the first half. I felt like if we got the second we would have gone on to win it, maybe comfortably, but it wasn’t to be.
‘I thought the turning point was their second goal. It was a foul on Cesar [Azpilicueta]. It should have been a free-kick, their player was looking at Cesar and not the ball.
‘In the end we had to try and push for the win because we needed to try and get three points. For their third goal you can hold your hands up and say “what can you do”. He [Oussama Assaidi] got a half a yard and smashed it in the top corner. That’s great play. When it’s at 2-2 it can swing either way; it could have been us that scored.’