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From the Darke into the light!

By Santosh Benjamin :  13/12/2008 :  Comments (10) :
After going over the end of the Villa game repeatedly during the course of the week, I have the opportunity to do the same after the City game. Thankfully this one will bring me great relief and joy... That was no thanks to the commentary team who included the one and only Ian Darke, who went through the entire game putting our players down... going down too easily, calling our tackles rough, waiting for City to score and generally being a stupid twat. He obviously has some visions of City joining the elite of the Premier League sometime soon as his brown-nosing would suggest.

The worst comment of the lot was one when Pienaar after getting fouled repeatedly apparently asked the ref to book Zabaleta... he asked Brian Marwood whether it was the same in his day... and they agreed that it only started when the foreign players invaded the league! Sickening... especially when you have to only look as far as across Stanley Park to players like Gerrard, Carragher, etc who are the masters of such behaviour!

We started the game without a striker up front and that was in stark contrast to the £32 million Robinho starting for City (not to mention the £19 million Jo on the bench!). Castillo got a rare start in the defensive midfield role alongside Arteta. The back four remained unchanged.

We started brightly and yet it was City who had the first effort, a shot from SWP which was duly blocked by Lescott. At the other and, Cahill won a foul just outside the box and Arteta stepped up and for once curled one over the wall and beat Hart ? only for the crossbar to deny him a stunner! The rebound went to Fellaini who looped a header goalward... only to see it land on the roof of the net. That seemed to spark a good period from City who had a poor miss from Ireland and a good snap-shot by Robinho which Howard saved well.

Osman was dragged down in the box by ex-Evertonian Michael Ball and yet the ref and his blind assistant turned it down. (I'm sure that a few TW regulars will disagree about that opinion of mine, since the handball by Curtis Davis was deemed fair too!) Another flowing move from us ended with the ball being squared to Arteta who produced a good save from Hart.

Just as the half drew to a close, Ossie crossed from the right for Fellaini whose first time shot was well saved by Hart. SWP had a good chance when he ran clear but the crossbar came to our help for once to deny him his customary goal against us. All square at the break then and we surely were the better of the sides. Elano with his new hairstyle had done a good job though for City.

City brought Jo on for Benjani after the break and City looked more composed as the game restarted. We had a good move though, orchestrated by a great cross from the right via Neville which almost landed on Cahill's head... only to be headed away by Zabaleta. SWP was being a pain on the right, he skipped past Lescott and had a shot/cross into the box which was cleared well by Neville.

Ireland imposed himself on a 50-50 ball and ran towards our goal and took a shot which Howard saved. We were looking pretty tired and I expected to see Jutkiewicz or AvDM but they sadly stayed on the bench. City brought on Vassell who ran about for a while.

At the other end, Fellaini picked up his customary booking for a silly challenge... that's eight I think and he will miss 2 games soon. Just as I thought that we would get at least a point, I was proved wrong ? like last week.

In injury time, we won a corner which Ossie took and floated one into the six-yard box and ? like the days of old ? Tiny Tim Cahill rose majestically to head it back across the face of goal and into the net!! I ran about the house screaming and hugging the wife...

As the game restarted, I felt my hearbeat reach a flutter when City pushed forward and almost were in on goal... only for a few desperate interventions to bring it back to it's prior rapid rate. The final whislte blew ages later, as we won against the odds and got 3 points away from a whole lotta chasing teams below us in a very very congested league table. Chelsea next and I hope that we have Saha or Vic back and hopefully even both of 'em as options.

Player ratings:

  • Howard: Other than the one time when Lescott expected him to come out for the ball and he didn't, he was brilliant; another clean sheet for him!
  • Neville: Solid game again.
  • Jags: Was back to his usual self, except for a scary moment when he passed it back to Howard and who was rushed into a sliced clearance.
  • Lescott: Nice bombing down the left, was beaten once by SWP but otherwise did well.
  • Arteta: Lost the ball once or twice but the things that I will remember about him today: a great free-kick and some good tackes, tracking back.
  • Osman: My Man of the Match today.. .was quick to win the ball, made good passes and made himself a nuisance to the opposition... and a nice corner to ice the cake!
  • Fellaini: Needs to cut the silly booking-inducing tackles out of his game and look a bit more lively (Dammit, he is 21-years old!) but otherwise he makes our midfield much stronger when he is around.
  • Pienaar: Was all over the place today and was fouled to kingdom come by the City team... especially Zabaleta... came a close 2nd in my Man of the Match ratings.
  • Castillo: Was overall poor in my opinion; gave the ball away too often but that maybe a sign of rust rather than anything else. I hope he gets a longer run.
  • Cahill: Was quiet for long periods and looked tired close to the end... but the goal was trademark him... and I couldnt wish it for a nicer guy. Well done, Tiny Tim.

Reader Comments

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Peter Bourke
1   Posted 13/12/2008 at 21:11:28

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Good assesment Santosh.
Tim was so tired because he had run his backside off during the game. He was lively up front and got back in defence. I wouldn?t mind knowing how many kilometers he covered but I bet it would be the most of anyone in the game... by far.
He was excellent today as was most of the team. That's 3 very good performance in a row and I think we turned the corner.
Steve Carter
2   Posted 13/12/2008 at 22:36:23

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You missed one in your player assessments, Santosh! I’m assuming it was Joey Yobo - he’s an invisible man too in the body of your report.
Santosh Benjamin
3   Posted 14/12/2008 at 01:21:06

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My apologies to Yobo.... I did forget him in the assessment...
Yobo: Won many headers and had a pretty solid game.
Dave Richman
4   Posted 14/12/2008 at 07:15:53

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Great assessment Santosh.

Two comments I would like to make though:

1) Ian Darke is another who sometimes drives me to watch the game in silence.. Quite what qualifies some of these morons to become commentators is totally beyond me, and he gave us very little credit at all. However, Brian Marwood - yes, him (for those, like me, with long memories) - was redressing the balance somewhat, and seemed chuffed with our performance.

2) Your man of the match. Funny how people watching the same game can see completely different things isn’t it? I thought Ossie was pretty shite today!!! Maybe I’m being harsh, and I may have to wach the game again to have another look!!
Rob Nunn
5   Posted 14/12/2008 at 07:46:59

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Nice one, Santosh, I was screaming and running around the house too! Unfortunately my wife found my behaviour excessive and she isn't talking to me now. Who gives a shit, we won and it makes this Sunday hangover all the more bearable!
Anthony Fitzpatrick
6   Posted 14/12/2008 at 08:38:38

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Regarding MotM, I honestly think every player out there yesterday gave 100%. I know people say that's the least they should be giving but unfortunately it does not work that way with professional footballers. If you look at the conditions yesterday, coupled with the heartbreak last week, I think it shows a side that is together and a side that will get stronger over the winter months. Also, with regards to Cahill, I know he struggles in a 4-man midfield but you have to love him!
Ben Jones
7   Posted 14/12/2008 at 21:26:44

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I?d probably give Arteta MotM but I think Osman and Pienaar were both pretty close. As Antony said, every player played brilliantly for us.
Nick Entwistle
8   Posted 15/12/2008 at 16:31:37

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Anyone hear this...

Darke: Arteta was brought in to replace Gravesen.

Marwood: Not a straight replacement as Gravesen was a defensive midfielder.

Or such like anyway. At that point I gave up listening to them...
Santosh Benjamin
9   Posted 15/12/2008 at 16:42:02

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Exactly, Nick. That was one of many, many stupid lines from them... Pundits??? Yeah, right...
Col Wills
10   Posted 16/12/2008 at 16:10:20

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Funny indeed how people's assessments differ as to Man of the Match... I sat down afterwards with 4 blues an we each chose Cahill, Fellaini, Pienaar( for me) and ?Jag?zilla. The Everton Echo chose Neville. Suppose it's about where you watch the game from. Personally for me, Pienaar makes us tick and lets us play football, Lescott has improved since he came back too (although he frustrated me by backing off SWP everytime until he got into the box).

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