COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Here we are again, after what seems like ten minutes since the demolition of Liverpool. I return to my off-the-wall North Liverpool watering hole for the pre-match meet up with like minded Blues who have become pals over the years...
The Red Dolly barmaid is speaking to me again and at first I thought she was using early learning Norwegian but after a little otic dexterity I ascertained it was pure Anglo Saxon and I assured her I had not even considered putting the FA Cup where she had suggested. She pulled a perfect pint of Boddies at £1-70 and I told her to cheer up as any team can lose 1-0 away to a top team.
She then politely asked me to move away in jerky movements,thats if my translation skills were correct.
Pre-match the talk was all about Wednesday and todays game was left to look after itself. Jô starts, Pienaar and Fellaini fall victim to the Goodison injury hoodoo which gives a start to the hero of Wednesday Gosling.
There was a feeling of anti-climax around the ground as we kicked-off and after just three minutes Cahill missed an absolute sitter after a good Baines cross and the game settled down into us attacking leaving fans to wonder just when we might make the breakthrough.
Chances came against a Bolton side that for once were not showing that grit and nasty streak. Lescott had one deflected over the bar then Jô hooked one over from an inviting cross from Gosling.
Bolton fired one over the bar but the Blues pressure continued as Jô got on the end of a Cahill clever flick on but drove wide.
Arteta who was most influential fed a clever pass into Lescott's path but he scooped over. Then the next chance of note was when Arteta took things into his own hands but his effort was saved by the keeper.
Those assembled were now getting a little restless as for all our domination no killer punch was forthcoming.
Then just five minutes before the break Jô was played in and was tripped in the box for a stonewall penalty but boy didn't he show how to milk it. Arteta stepped up and the power of the shot beat the keeper though he dived the right way.
We still had time for Jags to head an Arteta corner off the top of the bar and Osman to have a well struck shot deflected wide from a last ditch lunge.
Half time and the chat was of no great concern except for the view we should have been four or even five up.
However just four minutes into the second half a decent scoreline was achieved when Neville put a long punt toward Jô who expertly brought it down and in the same movement gave the keeper no chance. Eat your heart out Mark Hughes, the lad can play.
Gosling missed a fine chance to cement his place when he headed tamely at the keeper when well placed,he really should have converted.
We then had a twenty odd minute spell when we looked as if Wednesday had caught up and Bolton came more into it and we seemed no more than content to see it out at two-nil.
We hacked most attacks clear but Davies did have Howard showing concentration to deny him.
The manager made subs, first Rodwell for the industrious Cahill then Yobo got a run out in place of Baines and finally the lesser spotted Van der Meyde took over from Arteta for no other reason than to rest those taken off.
We did manage a bit of pressure near the end and in fact were well on top as the board showed three minutes of overtime, in that time Van der Mayde showed he might yet figure as the season concludes, Rodwell and Yobo got playing time and a handball from a Gosling cross gave us a penalty. Neville grabbed the ball and then as captain signalled to all around him that in the absence of Arteta then Jô would be the man,very professional I thought.
Jô stepped up and despatched as good a kick as you will see.
3-0 to the mighty Blues and the scoreline didn't flatter them.
Many of us stayed to acknowledge the performance and Jô was quite delighted as he showed by throwing his shirt to a lucky punter near the dugout in the Family enclosure.
Overall I thought a very professional performance on the back of a derby and against a team not yet sure of safety we looked a top EPL side. We played plenty of joined up football laced with the hoof as and when required which to my mind really should become the norm. for a team going places.
Man of the match for me was hard to call. Atreta had an excellent game but in truth had little competition in his area of the pitch. The back four once again was solid and up front Jô had a debut of promise. My call is for Cahill who yet again led by example and even his blatent miss didn't dampen his endevour.
Another point I would make is, as well as Fellaini and Cahill have done during our striker crisis the inclusion of a striker by profession made quite a difference and may yet, if he settles well, go a long way to determining our final league position.
As far as the cup goes where he is ineligible it would be great if we could use a fit Saha in however many games we get,I'm thinking final!.
Having a striker may bring a further problem ie what to do with Fellaini.
Move Arteta back wide I'll speculate no further and just leave it as a nice problem for our manager to determine.
International break mid-week and then Villa in the cup Sunday. Who will be fit? What might the team be? Can we take them?
Well, I guess just another week for Blues worldwide to ponder, argue and hope. My matchcard is activated, see you there.
UP THE BLUES
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