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Heavy Weather!

By Santosh Benjamin :  20/01/2008 :  Comments (24) :
I am just getting over the pounding heartbeat, sweaty palms and the butterflies in the pit of my stomach that came with the last few minutes of the match at the wet and muddy JJB. We should have won this match much more easily than we did but I guess all that counts is 3 points in the bag, temporary possession of 4th place, and momentum going into the huge Carling Cup semi-final 2nd leg against Chelsea.

The heavy rains had left the pitch at the JJB looking a lot like a mud wrestling venue (thats a bit over the top I think,actually!) and Moyes said before the game that our passing game may be compromised.

Wigan were surely the better of the two teams as the match got under way and we had to weather attack after attack with Valencia and Palacios doing especially well on the flanks and the strength of Bent and Heskey causing us problems. Cahill had a good shot on goal from a AJ cross but he shot straight at Kirkland.

We had precious little to show in the first half after that until Bramble decided to risk a back pass on the soggy pitch which he miskicked... AJ pounced on it drove forward and when one on one with Kirkland, nutmegged him and opened the scoring. From a corner soon afterwards, there was a scramble inside the box and the ball fell to Lescott at the far post (unmarked,thankfully for us!) who prodded it home like a striker to send us into the break 2 goals up when just a few moments earlier we would have been glad to be going into the break all even!

The second half started as expected with Wigan throwing on attacking subs and piling on the pressure and, from a free kick, Howard came out but missed the ball (sadly Jagielka didn't)... the ball cannoned off him into the net and the game was on again.

We did pretty well to absorb most of the pressure with a few good attacks ourselves, Ossie shooting just wide when I think he should have scored. Vaughan came on with a quarter of an hour to go and he immediately looked lively and was almost in on goal once. Tthe last few minutes were nerve-wracking but we held on for a hard-earned win.

The team assessment is as follows:

Howard: Came out and flapped at the free kick that led to the Wigan goal...his kicking was poor today too.

Hibbert: Had a decent game again today but picked up a yellow and will miss the Spurs game.

Jagielka: Had a good game until the point at which he guided the ball into our goal... actually after that he did well too.

Lescott: Good game again; defensively strong and pops up to score again ? he is a legend in the making!

Valente: Didn't do too much wrong but Valencia ran him ragged towards the end of the 2nd half.

Carsley: So many tackles to break down Wigan attacks... an invaluable member of our team (which we all know!)

Neville: Gave the ball away a few times as always; get him back at RB for the Chelsea game ? he is not a midfielder.

Cahill: Played hard as always; may have done better with his shot on goal in the 1st half.

Osman: Great to see little Ossie back for us; hope he is cleared to play against Chelsea...

Johnson: Clinical finish when he got a chance and hard-working performance on a soggy pitch.

Vaughan (Sub): Looked very lively when he came on; actually hope he gets to play a part in the Chelsea game coz he will make it count for sure...

Moyes: Did well to send on Vaughan to try and settle the game but I think he got the midfield wrong: Neville shoulda been at RB with Manny in the middle... but worked out ok anyways.

So we have the MASSIVE game coming up in a few days and I for one and very excited (and nervous). I will hope and pray that we can do the needful on a famous night at Goodison and move towards an achievable goal (the Carling Cup Final!!)

Then it's back to the league against Spurs which will be tough too... but we have the belief, skill and hard work to beat anyone on the day now and long may this continue. COYB

Reader Comments

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James Elworthy
1   Posted 20/01/2008 at 19:08:38

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Why does everyone say to move Neville to right back and take Hibbert off? Moyes got it right he took Neville off and kept Hibbo on. Hibbert is having a good run in the team so stop knocking him; defensively he is as sound as anyone.
Nick Heady
2   Posted 20/01/2008 at 19:34:20

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Good post, Santosh, but have to agree with James; I think Hibbert defensively is playing excellent at the moment, and has started to try to play the ball on the ground (today excepted). Totally surprised at the Neville substitution, but pleased. Cars didn't have a good game but all in all a good result in difficult circumstances away from home. COYB
Stuart Reid
3   Posted 20/01/2008 at 19:39:22

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I’m sorry but Hibbert is simply not a Premier League quality player. Being a decent defender who has no ability on the ball is a trait of a lower league player. I think he was once useful but we have surely moved past these sort of average grafters. Neville can defend and also deliver dangerous crosses.

That said, my heart always sinks when i see Neville in midfield. This is because he does not have the qualities necessary for this position and because he simply replicates the job that Carsley is already doing. Today we had nobody getting in the box because they were both hanging back in case we lost the ball. Against Man U or Arsenal with their great counter-attacking players that is ok, but against Wigan?

But still, a good three points. On another note, how come most teams are ’lucky’ when they scrape a win but for the so-called Top Four (Liverpool? Top 4? Yeah right!) it is the mark of champions to win when you don’t play well?
Eric Holland
4   Posted 20/01/2008 at 21:38:12

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"temporary possession of 4th place"
Why temporary? Are you so sure the RS are going to beat Villa on Monday?
We are where we are because we have accrued more points than the sides languishing behind us.
If it wasn?t for that twat Crapenberg we would have been five points clear of city and the RS would have been in 10th.
Roll on Wednesday COYB.
Mark Griffiths
5   Posted 20/01/2008 at 21:38:44

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I agree, hibbo is playing very well in defense, but still looks poor going forward.

But what do we do? Moyes won?t drop Neville, so if Hibbo keeps playing well, that means Neville will be played in midfield.

We cannot win!!!
Eric Holland
6   Posted 20/01/2008 at 21:49:07

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Mark I see where you are coming from.
But we did win.
Kevin Mitchell
7   Posted 20/01/2008 at 22:12:54

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Yes a very welcome 3 points but not a convincing display. Once again midfield was non existent apart from Carsley putting the tackles in. It?s so obvious Neville cannot play in midfield and should either play at right back or nowhere.

As much as I like Tim Cahill he also dosn?t shine in midfield which gives us the problems in the middle. I think Fenandes should have come on in the second half to give us a lift. Moysie must do better on Wednesday night.
Graham Rathbone
8   Posted 20/01/2008 at 23:42:10

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Eric, talking about Crapenberg I see he is the ref for tomorrows RS game with Villa. So a win for the RS then!!
Jay Harris
9   Posted 20/01/2008 at 23:49:29

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I think our results are brilliant but our play leaves alot to be desired.
Howard is not a champions league standard GK.He makes too many mistakes especially when coming out or not as the case may be and makes the defence unsure.We should have kept a comfortable clean sheet today and dont even tnink about the Arsenal game.
THat said my real big disappointment was that Manny didnt come on in place of Neville.
I?ll rephrase that to didnt start in place of Neville.
I admire DM?s loyalty but we have to kick on to compete with Chelsea etc. and need to replace Neville, Howard and Valente ASAP.
Connor Rohrer
10   Posted 21/01/2008 at 00:11:07

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Jay, Howard is a quality keeper and we are lucky to have him. Still in my opinion one of the top five keepers in the premership. A few mistakes and he’s awful. Every keeper makes mistakes. Reina made a few last seaaon and Cech has made two in the last few games.

We aren’t a champions league team anyway so I don’t see your point. We are a Uefa cup team who currently find oursleves battling for a Champions League place.

Valente and Neville are good players to have in the squad and Howard will be our first choice keeper for the next few years.
Jay Harris
11   Posted 21/01/2008 at 00:49:45

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Paul Robinson was one of the best keepers in the Premier League until the last 12 months.Things happen, maybe in their private lives, and their confidence suffers. Howard is a great shot stopper but just look at the mistakes he?s made this season behind a really good defence.

My point about the Champions League is that the standard of the players needs to be up to that level if we are to become a consistent top 4 team. Howard Neville and Valente are consistently below that IMO.
John Andrews
12   Posted 21/01/2008 at 00:48:09

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Santosh, Have to disagree about Jagielka. He kicked the ball all over the place. Almost back to Hoofball ?
Steve Carter
13   Posted 21/01/2008 at 01:41:51

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I’m with you James and Nick, not with you Santosh and Stuart. In my view, Hibbert is important. In many, if not most, cases, one of your most dangerous players in a top EPL side is the one marauds down the left flank. Hibbert consistently shuts that bloke down - the recent Man U, Man C, Arsenal, Chelsea games all showed that. All things considered, he does a better all round job at right back than Neville does, in my view. Yes, he can’t pass too well - but neither can Phil - and it is touch and go between them in terms of going forward and crossing, both admittedly pretty average. I just can’t agree, Stuart, that Neville is a "dangerous crosser". Moreover, with Arteta doing most of his stuff down the right, having a right back that can go forward and cross isn’t our first priority at the moment. In my view, Moyes should ship Neville - great bloke and a "hail fellow well met" captain for our troops (query though whether that’s in our best interests) - but he’s below required Premier league standard as a midfielder and only barely there as a right back.
Nick Xenos
14   Posted 21/01/2008 at 02:02:37

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As already mentioned, Howard is a great shot-stopper but he seems unsure as to when to come off his line and committ himself to the ball. I hope Woods has noticed this and works on it in training.
Santosh, you forgot to rate Arteta in your match report. I thought his set-pieces were spot on today. He was very harshly booked in the first half by a very poor ref. Could easily have accumulated a second yellow for taking a dive in the second half. Might have to tone the simulation down a bit as we can’t afford to have him suspended again.
Vishal Poorundersingh
15   Posted 21/01/2008 at 07:33:00

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Good post, Santosh... This was the game to introduce Manny ( at least for ten mins) before the wednesday clash against chelsea. We need his tactics on wednesday, he is a player who can defend as well as attack a bit just like cahill. Just cant wait, I’m so excited and we need to win on saturday. COYB!!!!!
Mark Stone
16   Posted 21/01/2008 at 10:10:56

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Hibbert is doing well all round at the minute: defending and distribution.
Jimmy Hoffa
17   Posted 21/01/2008 at 10:29:03

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I don?t think it was TIm?s fault. He was going to get the ball but there were a few bodies in front of him and he hit them on the way out.

I wonder why the ref didn?t call for roughness on the goalkeepeer
Santosh Benjamin
18   Posted 21/01/2008 at 11:46:00

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Thanks for the comments,guys.
True,Hibbert had a good game and he does stifle attacks on the left flank pretty well...but you have to agree that when he is late on tackles,he risks getting sent off.
Howard is a great goalkeeper and we are indeed lucky to have him..they all have their off days and hopefully that was his for the year!!!
Sorry about forgetting Arteta...he did have a good game and the booking was ridiculous.
Just saw on the OS that Hibbert and Ossie have signed long term contracts keeping em both at the club until atleast 2012.(by which time we should be challenging for/won the league title?)
Onwards and upwards..COYB..lets raise the roof on Wednesday night against the Russian mercenaries!
Dave Kelly
19   Posted 21/01/2008 at 19:51:35

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Have to say I thought Valente had a good game against Valencia, had to twist and turn to compete but never allowed him to dominate.He may not be as good as Baines going forward but puts in solid performances.Conidering the state of the ground he did well against a winger firing on all cylinders IMHO.
Harry McKillop
20   Posted 21/01/2008 at 21:50:47

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Eric Holland ...predict the lottery numbers for Saturday..
Liverpool 2 - Aston Villa 2
Lucky late goal for beanpole!!!
Eric Holland
21   Posted 21/01/2008 at 22:01:03

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Double rollover Harry!
If I win do you think Kenwright might sell up?
Fucking hell, I couldn?t take all the hassle from this lot on here. LOL.
COYB.Still 4th
Dominic Duerden
22   Posted 22/01/2008 at 14:30:21

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Hibbert getting booked was a nice added bonus , it will force Moyes to play Neville right back and hopefully put fernandez in midfield. Hibbert is crap.
Callum Greenall
23   Posted 22/01/2008 at 20:56:11

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We played very poorly in that game against Wigan but like they say a team that plays poorly and still wins is a very good sign.
Bad memory but Arsenal played poor against us and still won.
Andrew Hicks
24   Posted 23/01/2008 at 01:35:36

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Howard is the best keeper in the league!

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