The bad news is that Stoke's late rally sees us now in 19th. The good news is that we're only 4 points and 3 goals of 5th. A good win against the inconsistent Geordies this weekend should see us shoot up the table.
So what to do?
1) Defense: Now there has been a lot of talk about Distin on these pages; although I don't think he is anywhere near as bad as his last game suggests, to me it is clear that him and Jags are not quite working as a CB partnership. Jags has also been below par in some games this season but for me his past, his performances for England and his showing on Saturday make him our first choice CB.
In Heitinga we have a player who for the most part was able to marshall the attacks of Brazil and Spain at the World Cup, a high class CB. Johnny and Jags should be able to form a partnership with pace, intelligence and the ability to distribute as well.Admittedly they lack physical presence and this is where Distin may be brought in against certain teams (possibly such as Newcastle?).
For me, Hibbert has been consistent if unspectacular this season but mostly his defending has been sound. The same cannot be said for Leighton, who whilst threatening in attack MUST be told to be more tenacious when closing down crosses from his side. Far too much time given to the opposition.
2) Counter attacks: Pienaar's goal on Saturday was the first I can remember in a long time that saw us move quickly form defense to attack and create a good chance from it. It is how Arsenal and Man U have beaten teams for a long time. Whilst I applaud our more controlled passing game, we must be prepared to occasionally break quickly and catch the opposition unaware ? not with speculative long balls necessarily but with pace and energy... which leads me to:
3) The Right-Hand Side: Clearly this is a longstanding problem. Ossie can't play there. Bily can't really play there. Arteta and Pienaar shouldn't play there. Which leaves us with... Seamus Ramos. I wasn't sure about putting him on the right but it can't be denied that, even in his brief cameos there, he has done more than anyone else in terms of creating threat. His pace, dribbling and ability to beat a man offer us something we don't have. We need to pose a danger on the right and Coleman looks like our best chance of doing that. Or maybe Gueye or Vic when he's back.
4) Up top: This is a tricky one; more than anything, I think Moyes must go with what he sees in training. Whichever of Beckford, Saha, or the Yak is sharpest and putting the ball in the net most in training needs to start. None of this Cahill and Fella rubbish. If both are fit, I would be tempted to start with Saha playing just off Beckford against Newcastle... admittedly that means dropping arguably our player of the season so far in Cahill, but at home against average opposition, I feel two strikers is a better bet. And what a great sub to be able to bring on.
5) Individual Errors: Not much you can do here apart from require complete concentration from your players and drop anyone who makes them consistently. Which may be why Distin is set for a stint on the bench.
6) Energy: I feel a little that the fire and passion that has always been a trademark of Moyes's sides has diminished a little. It was there in the first 30 mins against Man U but apart from that we have looked a little lethargic at times. I'm not sure whether it's complacency, fear or lack of fitness but the high pressing and tempo side of our game hasn't been there.
Cahill being an exception, the players need to re-find that hunger that see's them set about the opposition like terriers and then when in possession pass the ball about with speed, purpose and ambition. We know we can do this because we did it for most of the second half of last season. So wake up boys and bring it back!
My team for the toon would be:
Howard Hibbert Jags Heitinga Baines Fella Arteta Coleman Pienaar Saha BeckfordWith Distin (to cope with Carroll) and Timmy other starting possibilities.
Three points is a must or else this season is going to start to drift away into the land of 'what might have been...'
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1 Posted 14/09/2010 at 15:51:51
Tim's not the problem. Playing Tim as a striker for a good part of the match was the problem. When the Yak came on and Tim was able to play his more accustomed role, we actually looked like we could score and we bloody well did.
2 Posted 14/09/2010 at 16:04:00
3 Posted 14/09/2010 at 15:50:52
Also think we'll start with Distin at the back - despite saturday's showing - and neville in midfield given the physical and downright dirty approach they've shown in recent games against us - barton, smith, nolan included. Whilst I'd prefer Seamus to start, i think it'll be something like this:
Hibbert Jags Distin Baines Neville Fella Arteta Pienarr
4 Posted 14/09/2010 at 17:59:42
after all hes done for Everton . He is without a doubt our best striker and you wouldnt play him.
No matter what you think of his touch and his pace, he pulls out out of the shit time after time. First name on the sheet , get The Yak beside him Johnny H in the back four and Neville in front of them against Newcastle......3 points , no sweat !!!
5 Posted 14/09/2010 at 18:32:06
The way Tim got Vidic crying like a baby to the ref for a clip round the ear was just as classy as his performance. Stirring stuff from Tim.
6 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:01:00
7 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:01:32
Just thought it would be nice for a change to play two out and out strikers at home against an average team. Just so long as it not Timmy and Fella.
8 Posted 14/09/2010 at 20:12:08
9 Posted 14/09/2010 at 21:54:38
Having said that, we lost the game - so it shows that playing him there doesn't guaruntee victory as some people would have you believe! Will be interesting to hear how he got on.
In other news - A james Vaughan hatrick for Palace against Pompey tonight. I'm made up for the lad. Should we bring him back now though as he is obviously the only striker we have who knows how to stick it in the onion bag?
10 Posted 14/09/2010 at 23:17:56
I could not believe my eyes the first few times so I read and re read your team list.
Sure enough there it was in black and white, Tiny was on your bench.
A certain Mr Vidic and his red nosed boss could only dream of such a thing.
11 Posted 15/09/2010 at 00:28:08
12 Posted 15/09/2010 at 00:47:04
Plus you start Beckford , who wouldn't move quickly if he was on fire !!
Even unfit Yak is a better option than Beckford. I'd start Yak , let him hold the ball up...see if you can get 50-60 min out of him this week and then sub him out
13 Posted 15/09/2010 at 12:22:04
As for the defence we need to stop playin Distin CB and Heitinga DM... its ridiculous, how can someone be Hollands CB, reach the World Cup final and not play there for his club team?
Strange isnt the word.
14 Posted 15/09/2010 at 13:09:22
And against Newcastle, I'd say that's about right.
15 Posted 15/09/2010 at 16:01:36
16 Posted 16/09/2010 at 14:31:43
Sorry guys but Cahill for me is not far off the Pip, Hibbert & Osman category ? a limited footballer who holds us back....
Come on, Coleman!!!
17 Posted 17/09/2010 at 10:31:41
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