Saturday, November 10, 2007

Cottagers capitulate

I thought that it was going to be one of those days, but it turns out I was wrong, it was one of these days. We had played quite well but hadn't got the goals that our play deserved. Then Rafa decided to unleash the kid. 20 mins to go and a match that looked like it would be another disappointing home point, was converted into three. The miracle of the loaves and fishes has nothing on this in multiplication terms.

We did create a few chance and should have been in front earlier. Crouch was unlucky to see a header hit the wood work o the stroke of halftime. Voronin had a few chances, one of which Niemi did well to save. The Finnish keeper repeated his heroics to turn a curling shot from Yossi around the post. But for all of our pressure, possession and persistence, it looked as if we were headed for parity.

Enter Torres. The media had a field day with the fact that Rafa named an unchanged team. Where was the "rotation"? The unchanged team hadn't produced the good so Rafa made a change to bring on the young fella. Torres had 20 mins and immediately looked dangerous. His goal was fantastic. A long kick out from Pepe arrived on his chest and he controlled it effortlessly. He turned Hughes one way and then another. Torres has the lethal combination of pace and quick feet. This combo proved too much for Highes as Torres shot through his legs. Poor Niemi had no chance and was beaten at his near post. Nice.

We were a bit lucky. with the peno. On the replay it does look like the foul occurred outside the box. I don't think that Crouch made a meal of it, there was a tackle and he went down, fair enough. Gerrard steeped up and took the peno. I am never 100% confident with him taking them but he's scored a lot more than he's missed. 2-0, job done.

There were many quality performers including Crouch, Voronin, Benayoun, Arbeloa and the two subs Babel and Torres. Babel caused a lot of problems with his pace, strength and direct running. As I've said on here before, he isn't the finished article yet, but he has the attributes needed to make it at the top level. Some of his decision making can be suspect when he takes a shot rather than passing. But I feel that we can coach him into playing a more team game while maintaining his goal threat.

All in all it was a pretty good weekend for us. Chelsea could only manage a draw against the bitter blues today which means that we're now a point behind Chelsea and 6 points behind Utd with a game in hand and Arsenal play tomorrow. Given how poor our form has been and injuries we've suffered last month, we're not in that bad a position. Hopefully we won't suffer anymore over the international break and Xabi and Agger will be back in two weeks when we play Newcastle. Benayoun is out now too but Torres isn't going away with Spain which is great news. The Toon are in shit form at the mo. Big Sam isn't working the wonders that they might have expected. I'm sure that he will get them in order eventually but now might be a good time to play them.

It looks like Utd have beaten us to the signing of John Cofie from Burnley. This is a bit of a disappointment but there's no guarentee that he'll make it and we're looking to sign a few youngsters of our own at the moment.



Duncan said...

Hullo! Sorry, I've neglected the blog awfully this year, basically because we've been playing so badly. And now look at me, a couple of good results, and I'm back sniffing around again, a poxy turncoat... My sister was at this one - thank god we won, cos she'd also been at the birmingham and marseilles games. I do like Yossi this year, but Benitez stumps me time and again with buys and selections. Anyway, hope you're alright, Mal, I promise to check in more often from now on!

Mal said...

I am doing well, thanks Duncan.
Really looking froward to the Toon match on Sat. Glad the stupid internationals are over. We must meet up for a match again soon.