Former Newcastle target Erik Pieters has been reflecting on the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle last Saturday,
But if we had taken our chances the game could have been out of sight by halftime.
After the match, Rafa said there were several areas the team can improve in although he was pleased with the performance.
One area we have become very good at is set pieces and for the second game running our winner came from a Jamaal Lascelles header from a perfect Matt Ritchie right-wing corner.
Jamaal Lascelles and players celebrate winning goal
Stoke like Swansea last weekend, employed zonal marking on the set pieces.
So Jamaal had a free run at the ball at the corner and planted the ball past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland via the cross-bar
This is what left-back Erik Pieters said after the game:
“It’s frustrating.” “Set-pieces are such a big part of modern football.”
“There’s always a chance you can get beaten by a set-piece, and there’s always a chance you can score from them.”
“We have to be honest with ourselves and look at that one today and make sure we don’t concede many more like that.”
“But it wasn’t just the goal, it was how they got the corner, that was sloppy from us as well.”
“And then, of course, we didn’t defend the corner properly either. “We’ve been watching videos of Newcastle and then we concede an identical goal to theirs last week.”
“We had said to each other we know they come like that and set ourselves to be zonal for the set-pieces.”
“We know they’re going to be strong in that area, but still we have to make it as difficult as possible when they come charging in – and we didn’t.”
“We gave him a free header and you can’t do that.”
“We felt comfortable in the second half and when we scored we thought we could go on and win the game. “
“We had some chances to do that but we didn’t take them and then a set-piece was our downfall and we know how important they are in modern football.”
It would have been a travesty of justice if we hadn’t taken all 3 points on Saturday but that’s what can happen when we miss so many chances in a game.
Surely Rafa’s top priority this January will be to bring in a top striker, and he may have to sell Dwight Gayle in the process.
What do you think?