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The back four?

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Is it me being stupid, or did we have a fully fit perfect back four to choose? We had Neville, Yobo, Lescott and Baines/Valente available. Don't get me wrong, Lescott played well at LB, but if we had our two best centre-backs in the right positions, would we or would we have not made the elementary mistakes we did against Arsenal?
Tom Rowe, Chester     Posted 30/12/2007 at 19:51:14

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Yes, Valente was fit and Baines could have been called upon as well, apparently, but the issue was in midfield. With Osman and Gravesen injured (and McFadden either not fancied in that area of the pitch anymore or being kept out of the action due to an impending move during the transfer window), there was no one but Neville to deploy in midfield and still keep the lone-striker formation.

I think most people would say that the Lescott-Yobo combination in the centre is our safest bet but Moyes rates Lescott very highly as a left back, apparently more than he rates Valente...

Charlie Percival
1   Posted 30/12/2007 at 21:27:44

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Does that mean he prefers Jagielka in Centre Back than Lescott?!
Phil Smith
2   Posted 30/12/2007 at 22:26:13

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You start any match by preventing the opposition from scoring and Lescott and Yobo as centre backs are the best paring by a long way. Valente who is fully fit and much underated by many blues, including Moyes obviously, would have done a good job I believe. Whether you risk Baines without match practice or not I’m not sure but Neville could have played right-back with McFadden in midfield or a 4-4-2 formation from the start. I’d personally like to see Vaughn partner Yakubu.
Colin Malone
3   Posted 30/12/2007 at 23:56:42

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If this comes about again, we've got to move Arteta into the middle, even if it means putting Neville on the right of midfield.
Tony Anetts
4   Posted 31/12/2007 at 03:09:00

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You are spot on Tom.

If Valente is not good enough to start when Baines is out injured then why is he there? Lescott is a really good CB, however I’m starting to feel that, given his enormous performances at LB, DM may believe that his future lies there - because of the forward impetus he supplies - which means Jagelka/Stubbs in at CB.

To be fair, while I hate seeing Hibbert’s name on the team sheet and Neville named in the midfield, I thought that Hibbert had his best game in ages and Neville actually looked like a quality footballer for short periods of the game (less the shot) - which is unusual when he plays in middle.

The mistakes were made by players (Jagelka, Yobo and Howard) who played out of their skins last week. You cannot legislate against individual errors (even Petr Cech has made them recently) and we should not over-react. In the main the defence has been good most weeks - but I do wonder about Valente’s utility if he isn’t played when we are short.
Ricardo Humphries
5   Posted 31/12/2007 at 06:19:19

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If you guys look closely, you'll see Jag is the culprit behind the first three goals...
Lue Glover
6   Posted 31/12/2007 at 08:49:37

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I suspect that DM wanted to disrupt the back four as little as possible with them having had a couple of good performances under their belt so went with the straight swop of Neville for Gravesen.
Everything is easy with hindsight but I too wondered why he didn't bring Valente on and shove Lescott forward (yes I know he?s a centre back) but Lescott was our best winger against the Arse. He put in plenty of crosses, is strong enough to beat or hold of the defender and was really the only player who seemed capable of getting into those positions on the left. His interaction with Pienaar was good too.
Lescott is good at making those runs and in an emergency I don?t see why DM doesn't consider it if either Valente or Baines is on the bench.
Dave Wilson
7   Posted 31/12/2007 at 09:24:12

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well done mate, the most ridiculous post of the year and you dragged it out of the hat on day 365
how on earth can the Jag be blamed for the Yobo/ Howard horror show
BTW even the best can be beaten by a cheating hand, ask Peter Shilton
Dominic Duerden
8   Posted 31/12/2007 at 10:03:02

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I can not understand why Moyes perserveres with Hibbert. He is so poor. Not just in the air and his positional sense, but his quality on the ball is appalling. He delivered one brilliant cross aganst Arsenal , that was it.

When you consider that Arteta was the best player on the pitch by a mile, and he was playing with Hibbert behind him, he is even more impresssive.
Jack Randell
9   Posted 31/12/2007 at 11:37:18

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Let’s face it, Moyes wasted a lot of dough on Baines who has spent much of 2007 injured both at Wigan and Everton. Now he wishes he hadn’t as he sees Lescott as a model left -back. Graveson has been a disaster even as a loan signing (think of the wages!) as anyone in Scotland could have told him. With Jagielka fucking up big-time in defense against Arsenal (my paper marked him 3!) ,I guess we shall see him returning to support neville in md-field.End of the dream coming up!
Erik Dols
10   Posted 31/12/2007 at 12:40:09

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I read somewhere that we only have to pay Gravesens wages in the weeks he actually plays, so we didn’t pay that much for him so far. And if Baines stays fit for a long time I think he can achieve great things. Anyway it’s really too soon to dismiss Baines as injury-prone after half a year and Jags as simply not good enough after one bad match!

I really getting fed up with these extreme overreactions by some of us after every match. When we win one game in style, we’re the best side since Brazil 1970 and when we lose one game Moyes is making all the old mistakes again, he will never learn etc etc and all the players are shite.

So far this season we played some really nice football from time to time. We also had a few flukes, like the second half last saturday. Results are decent, we’re fighting for a Uefa-ticket in the league and we’re still in all cups. But there’s really nothing to say yet about the results of this season. The season could still go either way. And the last match didn’t change that. End of rant.
kieran fitzgerald
11   Posted 31/12/2007 at 13:20:07

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I think if any defender is going to go it will be Valente. He seems to be the defender that is the least likely to be picked, especially with Stubbs now back to fitness. Lescott would get in ahead of Valente at left back with Stubbs just sloting into the centre.

Along with McFadden I wouldn’t be surprised to see offers being taken for VdM and possibly De Silva as well. The midfield badly needs bolstering and none of these players appear to be the answer in Moyes’ mind.
Jay Harris
12   Posted 31/12/2007 at 16:26:32

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There are a number of issues that need resolving in January.
1. McFadden, Valente, VDM, Da Silva all need to go if we are never going to use them>Infairness to the players they can see our midfield struggle so must be really disspirited not to get a chance.
2. Jagielka is only a squad player yes he had Anelka in his pocket but that does not make a good centre half over a season.
3. If we are going to the next level (apparently) Phil Neville is also only a squad player and does not need to play in midfield.
4.The African nations cup is leaving us really short in midfield for 5 or 6 weeks at a crucial time (FA cup, 2 semis, Uefa cup and league).
I believe our defensive problems are borne out of a midtable midfield when we dont have the full squad available.
It will not surprise anybody when I say we desperately need at least 2 quality midfielders in January otherwise we might as well look toward next season and forget this one. Hard work and determination does not make up for class as Arsenal showed painfully on Saturday.
Tyronne Dobbs
13   Posted 31/12/2007 at 17:26:02

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FAO Jack Randell

Doesnt look very injury prone to me seeing as he’s been in wigans 1st team since he was 17 and hes made over 150 appearances for wigan, just a bit unlucky with injuries since he signed for us but once he gets back to full fitness we will see the best of him i think
Andy Morden
14   Posted 31/12/2007 at 17:54:27

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I fail to understand the ability to give credit where credit is due on here sometimes - Hibbert had a really good defensive game against Arsenal. Yes, he is limited as a ball player, but give him his dues. I’d rather have Hibbert as back up to Neville than, for example. a Sunderland or newcastle defender. As for Jagielka, he ballsed up big time for the first goal and was skinned for the second (albeit after having the ball handled which may have contributed to him being wrong footed). However, considering that Joey Yobo made another howler (as we all know he is prone to them every now and then) I think it is harsh to target Jags. Tim Howard also needs critique as he failed to communicate with Yobo adequatley for the third and looked rather flat footed and ill positioned for the fourth. Having said all that, these players are generally solid week in and week out. Get off their backs and support them in getting back to the levels that they usually perform at. Finally, I suspect Moyes went with Lescott at left back for tactical purposes - Arsenal are a big mobile and physically powerful team. Lescott fits that description, so in he went to combat them. No slur on Valente, but Lescott has more pace.
Steve Jones
15   Posted 31/12/2007 at 20:23:44

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It was clear to me in the first half why he picked Lescott at left back - when Arsenal had the ball Lescott tucked into the middle to form a 3 with Yobo and Jags, with Pienaar dropping to left back. With Carsley and Neville in front , the middle was blocked off to prevent Arsenal producing the slick one twos to get through the centre, as they normally do.
Worked well first half , but then they bypassed the midfield with the long ball, especially when we were attacking and stretched. We all know our back four play deep, almost on the deg of our own box - should have pushed right up a lot quicker and made it impossible for Eduardo to get quick shots off.
Tactically thats why Wenger is top class and Davey still has a bit to learn !

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