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Back on track!

By Santosh  Benjamin :  12/01/2008 :  Comments (13) :
I have to say, I think I aged a fair bit in the last 20 mins or so against Man City as I sat and stared at my computer screen (coz I live too far from Goodison and the match was not on telly in India!). I was half expecting dangerous City to pop up with a late equaliser but thankfully it didnt materialise.

The starting line-up shocked me coz I hadn't heard anything about an injury to AJ in the build up to the game. To add to it, seeing Valente start also made me cringe as I thought he had played badly when last given the chance. It was great to welcome Mikky back after what seemed an eternity without him.

We seemed to start well and grew in confidence as the game went on. Arteta seemed to be involved in most of the build-up play and Cahill was popping up as always to trouble the opposition. Cahill should have opened the scoring with two opportunities to beat Hart in the same play. Neville and Carsley among others had shots on goal before Lescott slipped in to knock in a great whipped in ball from Mikky. We went into the break with City not having a single shot on target.

The second half started almost the same as the first but City seemed a bit more lively... cards were shown to both sets of players and we seemed to be getting stuck into them with many fouls being committed by us. Vaughan came on for Faddy at the hour mark and appeared to be full of beans as always.

City threw on their subs with the hopes of getting a breakthrough... the last 20 minutes was a nerve-wracking time for me... hoping against hope that we could hold on for what would be a great win to help us climb up the congested part of the league table!

The final whistle couldn't have come soon enough for me as Petrov got a shot in in the dying moments. All-in-all, we did well to get the points and I hope we can keep the momentum going against Wigan next weekend. I am hping to see Manny back in the squad with maybe even another name or two as well to strengthen us... Whatever AJ has, I hope it's trivial coz we need him back.

Team evaluation:

Howard: A clean sheet is always welcome for a keeper; not much to actually trouble him today

Hibbert: Did well from what I could tell

Jagielka: No nonsense performance by the CB.

Lescott: Great goal and may have scored even earlier...great at the back too..

Valente: Didn't make any silly mistakes

Carsley: Tough tackling as always... evergreen!

Neville: Seems to be better in midfield these days

Cahill: Should have done better with his chances and was a bit rash with the tackle on Hamann; needs to calm down. Absolutely vital that he starts all the games... McFadden: Decent game; would like him to stay ideally unless we get a great price. Anichebe: Not much written about him on the internet game coverage so I guess I cant say much either Vaughan: Seemed to be more involved than Vic... Baines: Too short a time to comment

Moyes:Maybe not the best team to put out but they got the job done. I would have started with Baines at left back... but he is the manager!

Let's move towards our next game with confidence, and slowly build up towards the 2nd leg of the Carling Cup which I( would really love to win (and shove the report down the Chelsea fans throats after the rubbish they spewed after the 1st leg!). COYB

Reader Comments

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Michael Smith
1   Posted 12/01/2008 at 20:09:35

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Back on track indeed - a VERY crucial three points.
Gavin Ramejkis
2   Posted 12/01/2008 at 21:08:15

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Welcome back again Santosh, believe me it was just as nail biting in the ground.

Hope you get over some day and savour the grand old lady before it’s too late.
Gary Marsden
3   Posted 12/01/2008 at 22:48:14

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Things are back on track after the little hiccups we’ve been having and its great to see. I’ve never seen our club looking in such fantastic ship shape condition on and off the pitch - it’s mighty grand!
Mick Mac
4   Posted 12/01/2008 at 23:13:21

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Good account of today, Santosh. I didn't think they would get a breakthrough because our defence was excellent. I just wish we could hold our nerve against the big boys. I feel that's coming and when we get the midfield right (with Manny back, it won't be very far off), we will start to turn those results around.
Glen Strachan
5   Posted 13/01/2008 at 00:54:00

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Did we really get back on track today?

Were we really off track when our last 12 Premier games have brought 26 points.

Eight wins, two draws (at Chelsea and Portsmouth) and a couple of defeats (at Old Trafford and home to Arsenal ? surely nobody was amazed to see our Blues lose to the top two sides in the Division).
Gary Sedgwick
6   Posted 13/01/2008 at 02:51:28

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Pretty good summary overall, Santosh. I watched the game on FSC. It was a game of two halves. We won the first and crucially got the goal, City won the second but thanks to resolute defending came away with nothing.

I have to disagree with your assessment of Faddy?s performance though. He was, to me at least, totally anonymous although to be fair in the first half he did put in one or two good passes. It was only after Vaughan come on for him that we offered a threat in the second half. Vaughan?s arrival also seemed to spark life into the crowd. His running seemed to really bring into play the twelfth man. As for MOM? Take any of three for me:

Jags, Lescott and Hibbert. All three were outstanding in the second half. Not one of them put a foot wrong. Lescott gets the popular vote I am sure, the goal gives him the edge but for me personally I give it to Hibbert.

Yes, the much maligned Hibbert. I too have concerns when he plays but today he shut out City?s most potent weapon Petrov. At least that is until the 92nd minute! People frequently get on his back on this site but give credit when and where it is due. Today he played a blinder and even Gordon McQueen acknowledged it.

Overall not the prettiest game I have witnessed but given our lack of options today a welcome result. Sure, there was a lot of what people term "hoofball" but our style of play today is now the exception not the norm.

Time for a Boddies methinks...
Michael Kenrick
7   Posted 13/01/2008 at 03:12:27

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Glen Strachan, Back on Track means getting back to winning ways. In case you hadn?t noticed, we lost four out of the last six games.That was after a fantastic unbeaten run.

What I really object to in your comment is the inherent assumption that we will lose to the top two sides in the league. Surely the first most basic step in confronting the big clubs is to at least have the belief that you can win aginst them. Thankfully, that is the way Moyes set(s) up the team when they play(ed) the Big To/Three/Four. The failing was/is, as ever, the difficulty Moyes has of closing the deal when it comes to beating the top clubs. We played well but we have this idea that we should sit on the draw and it has cost us big time against these clubs.

Surely to God you have to believe you can beat them. Otherwise, what is the point? Football is not played on paper, it?s played on the field.
Gerard Madden
8   Posted 13/01/2008 at 13:42:17

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Good summing up Santosh! We ARE back on track - and it’s good to see all the happy smiling faces are back on our collective chops again, though as far as most of us are concerned they never went away! We needed to dig in against a team who’ll be challenging us for the 7th/6th/5th/4th spots and I thought we did that pretty well though the ’ol nerves were jangling near the end. Great times....
Gordon Blair
9   Posted 13/01/2008 at 14:35:53

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Michael, I believe what Glen was driving at was the Man Ure and Arse results would arguably have been ?budgeted for? at the start of the season, 6 pts being the expected return over the christmas period, more would have been good, less would have been a concern.

While I?d love to turn round and say, ?Bring em on, we?ll beat any side in the world, it?s been 22 years since we were that good. As yet, these sides are still superior to ours, but the gap?s closing....

OK the oldham performance was poop, but the other 3 defeats were against the Top 3 (Liverpool having quite elegantly demonstrated there is no big 4 any more, this past weekend :oD)... twice we were denied a point in the dying minutes (AWAY from home, against Man Utd and Chelsea)... and in between we outplayed Arsenal for the majority of the match, only to fall to sucker punches. Those performances hardly constitute going off the rails.

Barring the Oldham blip, I think Glen has a point, our performances have been pretty consistent at a level sufficient to see off the likes of City, but not quite enough yet to turn over the Big 3.
Sean Condon
10   Posted 13/01/2008 at 15:34:20

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When I watched Martin Petrov run Blackburn off the pitch in the first half a few weeks ago, I thought "how the hell is Hibbert going to deal with this guy"? So kudos to a much maligned and terminally gormless looking full back who probably had as much to do with getting the three pts as JoLeon Beckenbauer did.

See ya later Jamie Mac. I?m sorry, but the odd flash of brilliance can?t make up for a lack of work rate and the comlete absence of a football brain. Moyes has had him for years and hasn?t been able to drum that dumbness out of him. Surely his stock will never be higher than it is now. Sell! Sell! Sell!

Michael Kenrick
11   Posted 13/01/2008 at 15:58:46

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Gordon, thanks for the reminders we’re getting off the point here, if we are really making progess in our quest to challenge the Big 3, wouldn’t we be looking to improve our results against them year on year?

We have taken one measly point off them this season. Compare that to how many points we took off them last season. We all know how the games went this season ? that’s not the point: it’s results that count, and we have had precious few worth crowing about against top-half teams. On that basis alone, yesterday’s win was monumental... we beat the FIFTH PLACED TEAM!!!

So, as Santosh says, beating City at this point in the season (with our African contingent away) really does get us "Back on Track!" It is actually a massive step forward for us this season.
Dave Wilson
12   Posted 13/01/2008 at 16:59:48

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Another whirlwind post Santosh. Not sure I agreed 100% with with your team evaluation but enjoyed your post again. For the first time in 20 years I feel that no matter how important our last game was, the next one seems even more important.
Isn't it brilliant?
Dave Lynch
13   Posted 14/01/2008 at 15:10:25

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Good post as usual Santosh.
Tough side to beat city. They remind me a lot of us, difficult to break down at the best of times and even harder if they go a goal up.
That was a good 3 points. Now lets see if the boss can move it up a level and we give Chelsea a good going over.
NSNO.

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