When we left the Journey last time we had seen a very decent run of results that had left us 8th in the league. December and January were now upon us and if we remember, these months often find us wanting and our form falls away. Lets try to buck that trend.
Match 15 - Everton (A) 2-0
We start the December run of fixtures with a tricky trip to Everton. A quickfire first half brace from Max Verhelst was enough to see off the Toffees. We dominated from first to last whistle and full deserved the three points.
His performances this season have brought him to the attention of some of Europe's biggest clubs and with us still in Contract negotiations I fear we may lose him for free at the end of the season
Match 16 - Manchester City (H) 1-1
This game went exactly as everyone expected for 85 minutes. Man City dominated the ball, had the best chances and were rarely threatened. They took the lead in 68th minute and were cruising to an easy victory.
Then up stepped Ryan Gauld, who with his wand of a left foot delivered a peach of a cross which was met by Rhys Williams to power a header into the far corner. 1-1 and we had stolen a point.
Match 17 - Sheffield United (H) - 4-0
A complete display for the lads as we made Sheffield united look like a team venturing into the Premier League for the first time.
Jack Clarke put us 1-0 up in the first half with a tidy finish at the back stick from another wonder delivery from Gauld.
The second half we really hit top gear with strikes from Chorley, Verhelst and an OG. Couldn't be happier with displays like this one.
Match 18 Leicester City (A) 2-2
In the build up to this game we suffered two major injury concerns. Verhelst and and our first choice 'keeper Collins have been ruled out for up to 4 weeks each.
The Leicester game was one for the neutral with a back and forth classic. Jack Stephens put us 1-0 up on 9 minutes. We were very quickly pegged back to 1-1. Jack Clarke reinstated our advantage on 26 minutes and we took that into the halftime break.
Leicester were level again on 58 minutes and that was the way it stayed.
Match 19 - Watford (A) 1-4
For the first time this season we were experiencing a short turn around between games. The previous game at Leicester was on Thursday with this game with Watford on Saturday. Add our growing injury list to this and we were there for the taking.
Watford steamrolled us and we were 3-0 down after 17 minutes. It was 3-1 after a Ryan Gauld penalty but that was as good as it go for us as Watford scored again in the second half to make it 4-1.
Match 20 - Brighton (H) 0-2
This game again came around too quickly for a few to recover in time and we paid for the lack in squad depth for the second game in a row.
FA Cup 3rd Round - Scunthorpe (A) 2-2
A returning Verhelst showed no sign of his recent lay off as he grabbed a brace against the lower league opposition.
Sadly we were still showing signs of fragility at the back and with the small rotation we were very susceptible and Scunthorpe took full advantage. They actually went 1-0 up before Verhelst dragged us back into it. We were 30 seconds away from going through to the next round before conceding in the 91st minute.
We will welcome them back to Adams park to add to an already packed January fixture list.
Match 21 - Bournemouth (A) 0-1
Back to the important business of the Premier League.
Its amazing what a few injuries and a dip in confidence can do to a team. A few months ago these were games we were winning however we just don't look like doing that at the moment. A 1-0 away defeat.
FA Cup 3rd Round Replay - Scunthorpe (H) 2-0
I decided to ring the changes again for the FA cup, in the hope of resting some players as well as getting some match fitness for some of the squad players.
It took a while, maybe too long but finally the deadlock was broken in the 79th minute. It was worth the wait as Ian Davenport curled in a delightful free kick from 30 yards out off of the underside of the bar. The win was secured with an 87th minute tap in from Vassi.
Our reward for battling through, an away trip to Anfield in the Fourth Round.
Match 22 - Tottenham (A) 1-2
The first of 3 away games in a row saw us travel to Spurs.
Although this will go down as a loss I was very pleased with the performance and we gave Spurs a real game. Gyabuaa with our goal in the first half. His first for the club.
Match 23 - Liverpool (A) 1-1
In the first game of our away double header with Liverpool we defied all the pre game odds to come away with a invaluable point. Cesar Pedrosa scored his first goal for the club with an absolute piledriver from 30 yards.
This draw stopped a run of 4 straight defeats in the league.
FA Cup Fourth Round - Liverpool (A) 2-2
The second half of this epic double header saw us return to Anfield in the FA Cup. Having struggled in the previous round to break down lower league opposition i wasn't holding out much hope. Especially after seeing Liverpool put their first team out.
We took a surprise lead as Carel Eiting split the defence open with a wonderful through ball for Clarke to latch on to and beat the 'keeper at his near post. Normal service was resumed in the second half as Liverpool went 2-1 up. But we were never out of the tie and we were rewarded in the 87th minute as Vassi met a trademark Gauld free kick at the back stick to take the game to a replay.
This has been a tough few month both in the League and in the Cup. After a good start in December Injuries and fixture pile up has taken its toll and January was a winless month for us.
This dip in form has seen us drop to 9th in the league. 12 points ahead of Burnley who occupy 18th spot.
I will briefly cover the final few days of the transfer window in the next episode as well as a possible tactical change.
Cheers for reading.
If you have enjoyed this episode and want to fully catch up with our Journey so far you can start way back at the beginning here - https://www.sadpanda333.co.uk/post/pre-game-launch-and-save-selection
We also have an fascinating International save going as we attempt to take Jamaica to Gold Cup and World Cup glory after acquiring some new recruits who have been ignored repeatedly by England - https://www.sadpanda333.co.uk/post/ep-1-joining-jamaica-dishing-out-passports