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Damage limitation

By Santosh Benjamin :  30/03/2008 :  Comments (1) :
I sit down to write this article with a sense of numbness... I am neither bitterly disappointed nor proud of the way we played. We did enough to make sure that the scoreline didn't look like a rugby one but on the other hand did little to make me expect a draw.

When I saw the team sheet, I was shocked to see not only AJ but also Anichebe missing from the squad. Obviously no youngsters on the bench as that isn't an option for Moyes. I was hoping that Manny would start alongside Carsley in the centre of midfield. Their line-up looked menacing to say the least with the ladyboy leading the line for them.

The first half started with Liverpool pressing from the get-go... we did have an early shot on goal from Arteta in the 2nd minute which Reina saved comfortably.... But hardly 7 minutes into the game, we gave up a corner which we partly cleared to the edge of our box. Yakubu turned with the ball and looked to have been tripped by Alonso and was dispossessed... the ball was calmly played to Torres on the right side who kept his cool and slotted past a half-advanced, crouching Howard.

It looked like we were in for a pasting at that point. Wave after wave of Liverpool attacks ensued and even when we did get the ball, we went and gave the ball back to them. Bookings for Carsley and Neville showed a feeling of frustration in our side. Hibbert was looking out of sorts against Babel. Torres then almost turned provider from the left but we somehow got it clear.

Everytime Yakubu got the ball he was called for an imaginary foul. At the other end, ladyboy was falling everytime the wind changed direction... then getting up, combing his golden locks and adjusting his hairband coz he knew he he had got a free kick. We were solely bombing down the left with Lescott, Pienaar and Arteta combining occasionally.... to provide relief from the red barrage. Gerrad hit the post as the half drew to a close and we were lucky to go into the half trailing only by one goal. I was hoping to see Manny on from the start of the second half.

The second half showed no changes at the beginning but we did look like Moyes had given them a earful. A few more spaces were opening up now but Reina was not tested. Pienaar was the next into Howard Webb's book of doom as he impeded Babel from a Liverpool counter. From a corner, Ossie looked to have scored (both the wife and me jumped up thinking we had scored!)...but had missed just wide.

Pienaar was taken off with Manny coming on... maybe he was injured? He was followed a bit later by Neville who was replaced by Baines. Neville was terrible as he came off... throwing his Captains armband in anger and snatching his sweatshirt.... not the right example a captain should be setting at all.

Liverpool had a few more chances in the end but we held on for damage limitation... not before Jags was also booked for allowing Stevie Me to try and head the ball off Jags' foot!!!

End of the quest for 4th place, surely... Hopefully we can get back on track and hold on to 5th. Derby had better be beaten by 3 or 4 goals... and hope that they lose to Arsenal twice this week.

The team assessment is as follows:

Howard: Did well to keep us in the game... saving especially well from Gerrard in the end.

Hibbert: Did well with a couple of blocks in the box but thought that Babel ran him ragged especially in the 1st half.

Jagielka: Did pretty well today... didn't like seeing him up fromt... rather have a untried youngster than defenders doing that!!!

Yobo: Did well at the back... apart from dwelling too long on the ball close to the end... tracked back well to clear for a corner though.

Lescott: Not as effective bombing down the left... as Liverpool defended well.

Carsley: Played hard and although many have abused him, I thought he did well today.

Neville: Terrible game today both on the field and as he came off too.

Osman: Needs to beef up or will get knocked over by opposition defences.... alternatively he can grow his hair, wear a girly hairband... then when he gets knocked down, he will get a free kick!

Arteta: Struggled to get a hold on the game... was not helped at all by the rest of the midfield.

Pienaar: Didn't look fully fit... hope he recovers soon...also hope we sign him quick. What's the delay for?

Yakubu: Was yelling at his team-mates throughout the game... can't blame him: poor service. He was called for a foul everytime he touched the ball. Didn't like his swan dive at the end... He would've done better to take a shot on goal instead..lucky he wasnt booked!

Subs: Fernandes: Did ok today actually ? should have started...

Baines: Better as a left sided defender to be honest... but was good from what I saw.

Other points:

Moyes: Yes his resources are limited, plus injuries, but the least he can do is put a young striker on the bench and try him for what it's worth instead of asking Lescott/Jags to play that role! We need AJ and the Vic back soon. The season is getting scary now.

Ref (Howard Webb): Was not terrible but was pretty rough on the Yak. Healso let Carra get away with a bad tackle on Neville... overall would sum him up as spineless, yet harmless.

Looks like we have to fight for even 5th place now with Pompey winning again. Lucky that Villa, City and Blackburn keep messing up too... we need a strong performance against Derby next weekend coz the remaining games are very tough starting with Birmingham away, Chelsea home, Villa home, Arsenal away, Toon at home to finish(they whipped Spurs today, huh!) Let's keep up the spirit that got us this far this year... COYB

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Mark Manns
1   Posted 30/03/2008 at 23:30:05

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Hi Santosh

Thanks for that enjoyed the read although must say for Neviile to be described as terrible and Arteta as ?struggling to get a hold of the game? is questionable. Arteta was absolutely abysmal and has been for many weeks. He needs dropping pronto as he is costing this team points and the hard work they have put in all season - don?t you sense there is a real problem with him at the moment which strikes deeper; I sense an end-of-season sulk on he way. Neville didn?t create but defensively was sound. He would?ve been tighter to Babel in the first half than Hibbert, that?s for sure.

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