How Much Did Kenny’s Keeping Decide the Title?

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While Marton Fulop made a trio of mistakes this weekend, constituting two blunders sandwiched either side of a ‘he should have done better’, marking a horrid debut no less, the coverage of another three examples of questionable keeping was hardly considered; that of Paddy Kenny’s on display in the vital Man City v QPR match.

Famed for his more round physique for a top level athlete, Kenny has been recognised as having good reflexes, agility and shot stopping. However, the match on Saturday exhibited a clear weakness in positioning and handling as he was questionable for all three of the goals his side conceded. The first was the worst and most blatant. QPR looked to contain City in front of them, with Zamora and Cisse doing plenty of tracking back to form a shield around the penalty box and were doing it reasonably well, despite offering no attacking threat. However, when good build up from Zabaleta and Yaya Toure unlocked the QPR defence, a high punt at goal from Zabaleta straight at Paddy Kenny, deflected through his hands and into the far corner of the goal. As costly as the error was for the goal, it was even more damaging to QPR’s game plan. Rather than sit back and play Man City on a cautious counter attack, QPR instead had to come out and attack City to try and take something from the game, which in turn would leave them much more vulnerable themselves. City went into half time 1-0 up with Utd’s early lead redundant as City looked set for the title.

One mistake is of course forgivable though, and as Man City constantly got forward to break down QPR for a second, it came as some surprise when Lescott got completely caught under a long ball down the field, which was anticipated brilliantly by Djibril Cisse who lashed it past Joe Hart on the volley, when QPR appeared to be offering little threat otherwise. At 1-1 the game was contested in QPR’s half, with City piling on the pressure, however on the 54th minute Barton’s dismissal caused the withdrawal of Cisse for Traore to sure up the defence. Yet a surprise counter attack, which Traore played a key role in, saw a header from Jamie Mackie make the game 2-1, deflating the stadium in the process. The remaining five minutes of the match will rightly go down as some of the most entertaining in the sport’s history, yet Djeko’s equaliser wasn’t a brilliant unstoppable finish. As the ball curled in, poor defending gave him a free header, and Kenny’s momentum saw him follow the path of the cross and allow the Bosnian to score at the centre of the goal, close to the keeper’s body, a shot that could have been reacted to had he have been better positioned. The news that Bolton had only drawn with Stoke meant that QPR were safe, and the league-defining last seconds of the match saw Aguero break round the defender in the box and smash the ball beyond the QPR number one. The stadium erupted whilst simultaneously Phil Jones’ look of delight switched to a pained expression, as Utd’s march off the field became a trudge. Yet the final goal saw Aguero beat Kenny at his near post. A cliché it may be, but for a goalkeeper to be beaten at his near post from an angled shot represents extremely poor footwork and positioning.

This however, can’t take anything away from Man City who were the more impressive side throughout the season, attacking with flair and creativity whilst showing excellent defensive structure. It does however suggest that luck and circumstance will always play a part in our game, as Kenny’s mistakes gave City the win. Perhaps, so too will there be an intangible sense of fate which can engulf a match and bring a result where one looked impossible, as the City v QPR match portrayed. This weekend also suggests that the quality of a goalkeeper is often overlooked and much more significant for a team than we give credit.

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Joe Hart shows much better handling during celebrations

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One Comment to “How Much Did Kenny’s Keeping Decide the Title?”

  1. Joey Barton’s actions had a more damning impact in my opinion. 10 men for over half an hour is always an uphill battle – even if you are winning!

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