COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Two above Zero for the Toffees. Twenty below for the rest of us.
You have probably read many match reports by now and watched world-wide on TV as the Blues at last got a victory at the eighth attempt. What is it about us when playing City over the last few seasons? The double last season and now this. City wanting the three points to go top at Christmas and have festive bragging rights in their city while Everton were searching for form and confidence at the relegation end of the table left the hosts massive odds on favourites to do the business.
It probably did us a favour as City started as if they had already won which allowed us to make the most of our high tempo start as Cahill finished off a move which saw Big Vic make a bit of a hash of an attempted flick on that found its way to Coleman on the right tight to the line but the defender left enough room for his cross that found Cahill unmarked a yard out and he doesn?t miss those. Managers go mad at such defending but the faithful go mental and raise their body heat to a reasonable level.
Everton took advantage of the City posing but it was a clash of heads that proved pivotal in getting the second when Cahill and Zabeleta clashed the City man went off for a while but the tough Aussie merely needed Vaseline. Whilst he was off we took advantage and a move down the left saw Baines pass to Big Vic and then go into the box for the return. Vic got the power wrong but found Cahill in the centre of the box again unmarked, Baines was also free after his run so Cahill laid it back to him and although Baines has a wand of a left foot we found out what his right could do and from my vantage point I saw him curl an exquisite shot that left Joe Hart rooted 2-0 and everyone?s body temperature rises again.
Zabeleta returned, head bandaged but to late to have made a difference.
City were now well and truly stung and upped the anti albeit with some desperation but enough to force us back without Howard being unduly troubled up to half time.
City took off Milner at the break and it made me wonder why both he and Barry after making such efforts to join City seem to have gone backwards since their Villa days? The second half was a bit like the Alamo but with the excellent Distin marshalling the defence well and the midfield protecting as much as they could we broke when we could.
Coming up to the hour mark it all got a lot worse when Big Vic chased a back pass and knocked over the keeper in what looked no more than an accident but the Ref deemed it a yellow card, he then compounded this a few minutes later with a brainless tackle that was definitely a booking and got his marching orders. Ironically Saha was stripped and ready to replace him when it happened.
It was the Alamo right to the end and but for Howard making some great saves we may have succumbed but that's what he is paid for and he did it well. City did get one back but even that was an unfortunate deflection off Jags. who later limped off to be replaced by the dependable Hibbert who slotted in nicely at centre-back.
The temperature was dropping like a stone and 4 mins of extra time seemed like an eternity but I thought we played it out with a lot of composure considering the pressure we had been under. In that short time Toure proved the match of Big Vic in the brain cell department by getting sent off for 2 daft yellows, both deserved.
MotM? Take your pick from Fellaini, Cahill or Distin.
I thought the manager did well for this game getting his tactics right and making substitutions at the right times with the right players coming on and going off. Saha was introduced and that?s the best I have seen him play for months, he looked hungry, I put it down to the new hair colouring, far less dowdy than his last colour.
Although under the cosh for long periods I thought we played some good joined up stuff right through the team and the hoofs were administered at the right times. I thought all the players put in good shifts, Osman worked tirelessly until he ran out of steam and Bilyaletdinov who replaced him looked sharper than for some long time.
The Fellaini/Rodwell partnership is coming along nicely as well as the back five looking quite solid especially against a team that interchanged positions a lot. Then there is Cahill, what can you say, scores and works like a Trojan for the team I just hope someone steps up to the plate when he is away. Coleman and Big Vic? Only time will tell but I am not overly sure about either.
Will this confidence building result now stand us in good stead for the remainder of the season? I hope so but who knows in football. I am not expecting any significant transfer activity in January but I do hope we can keep the players we have now fit, confident and fired up. If the players celebrations with each other and the fans at the end of the game is anything to go by then I think that they believe they can push on.
Brum on Boxing day. Will Jags be fit? Will Arteta play? Will we go for it and get a win at home and send the faithful home with smiles on their faces and two good Christmas presents under the belt. All will be revealed, see you there.
I wish you all a very happy Christmas.
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 22/12/2010 at 07:47:53
1. I would add Howard to the list of potential men of the match ? he had a great game.
2. Distin has had a great season but often makes little errors, most of which have not been exploited. In the City game he was error-free.
3. Why does Fellaini persist in going into tackles with his foot over the ball? This will inevitably lead to yellows and maybe even reds. ? why not just put the foot through the ball?
4. Anichebe unlucky with the first yellow but, having received it, the second was brain-dead. An unnecessary lunge in the middle of the park makes little difference in the overall scheme of things. One also has to question why Moyes did not take him off straight after the yellow, given that it was unlikely that he would last the whole game.
5. I was encouraged by the cameos by Saha and Bily towards the end. Saha made one quite magnificent leap to win a ball and generally got involved, which is more than has been the case recently. Bily often looks disinterested when the ball is with the opponents but tracked back nicely and won a good tackle at a sensitive time in the match. I think he could be good if he gets some game time, which is possible when Cahill goes off to the Asian Cup.
2 Posted 22/12/2010 at 07:54:26
3 Posted 22/12/2010 at 09:31:06
It was Osman's first game back after a long injury spell and long before he was subbed it was noticable that he had run himself into the ground. I thought our crew in the dugout should have acted a bit sooner. OK so in the end it didn't matter but it could have.
4 Posted 22/12/2010 at 09:52:09
5 Posted 22/12/2010 at 09:50:31
I would go on to say that the big Fella looks like he's starting to come into some form back again, and was pleased to see Bily get some game time. I think Moyes needs to make his mind up about him real quick in the next few weeks.
6 Posted 22/12/2010 at 10:53:31
7 Posted 22/12/2010 at 11:13:02
Players need to learn how to play with a yellow card, and not make silly tackles that risk the chance of another. A manager can't use substitutions as a substitute for a player using his brain!
8 Posted 22/12/2010 at 13:00:55
9 Posted 22/12/2010 at 13:00:55
10 Posted 22/12/2010 at 16:08:55
Though this has been a frustrating season so far I think we should be at least 6 points better off, and that would put us in the top 6.
11 Posted 22/12/2010 at 18:48:02
12 Posted 23/12/2010 at 01:55:00
13 Posted 24/12/2010 at 12:26:33
Coleman probably needs a break; with Pienaar, Ossie and Arteta all back up and running, I think he will get that break.
Moving forward, I hope Bilyaletdinov steps up having done well, held onto the ball, couple of tricks and found players when passing and doesn't turn out to be the next AvdM.
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