Quique Sanchez Flores admitted the late withdrawal of Miguel Britos hampered his team but he did not blame that for a second successive 1-0 defeat of the week, this time against Leicester City.
Miguel Britos withdrew shortly before kick-off with a hamstring problem and with Craig Cathcart, Tommie Hoban and Joel Ekstrand all out injured, Sanchez Flores had to parachute Nathan Ake in as an emergency centre-back. Britos, the 30-year-old Uruguayan, has really struggled with the amount of games in quick succession since Christmas.
“It is not good when you have to put a new defensive line [together],” said the head coach. “It is the first time they have played together and it is not easy against the best strikers in the league. It is not good news [when we have to do that] but we need to accept it. I was happy with the performance of the players. They did amazing to keep their focus. The first 15 minutes we had problems in the defensive line, then we start to play well and it was OK. Ake could play perfectly in this position but he needs to train in this position.”
While the defensive issue was a new one, the problem at the other end of the pitch is a long-standing one. It is now three games without a goal of any sort and the team have mustered only three goals in the last eight league matches.
“It’s not a drama but it’s real,” said Sanchez Flores. “Our system, our team and our attitude is very good. We have two players who normally score. Some day Deeney and Ighalo were not going to score but when you read the statistics we are creating attempts and we are inside the box. The game at Tottenham was the only time we didn’t shoot. We played around the box, inside the box but we didn’t score. It was important to score before the opponent. Once they took the lead it was difficult to create the space and create attempts. The ball possession was 50-50, we shoot ten, they shoot 11. We were expecting this kind of match.”