Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fernando Towers

Just what the doctor ordered. 4-1 at home to Portsmouth and we were coasting for most of the game. Yossi opened the scoring in the first half with a stunning volley hit with the outside of his right boot after a great cross from Harry on the left. Yossi is very good and drifting inside and linking up the play. He is also capable of delivering goals as he showed here, but it would be good to see a bit more of this from him. Maybe I'm being over critical as he's already scored 6 this season. Good to see Kewell getting involved by setting it up.

The second goal was a bit of a comedy of errors. Torres advanced into the box and was faced with Distin and Campbell. Campbell swiped at the ball which rebounded off Distin's leg to beat James at the far post. Portsmouth did get one back but even then, we had the match under control to a large degree.

Enter El Niño. The kid is unstoppable. He scored two today and could have had more. As we've seen, he causes panic in defenses. It paid off here as he took full advantage. He's now scored 8 in the league and 14 in all comps from 18 starts. I thought that it would take him some time to adapt but I was wrong. He's taken to the league like a duck to water despite what the doubters were sceptical beforehand. His first was a crisp strike from the edge of the area after Babel had run at the pompey defense. His second was even better. Carra hit a lovely ball which found Gerrard on the left edge of the area. His header back into the middle dropped to El Niño who hit a great volley which left James with no chance. The kid goes from strength to strength.

Babel came on and did his usual trick of causing havoc to a tired and stretched defense. He didn't manage to score this time but his L4 education is coming along nicely. Rafa is doing the right thing with him and I fancy him to be making regular starts by the end of this season or the start of the next one. There is still some debate over his best position, whether it's on the wing or up front.

The champions league last 16 draw was made on Friday and we drew Internazionale of Milan. This is a tough draw but it was never going to be easy given that we finished second in our group. Inter are a great side, full of talent. Mancini is a clever manager who's managed to get his own way with minimal interference from Moratti. Zlatan is one of the best forwards in the game and will cause us problems. This match and Arsenal's with AC Milan are the ties of the round and very hard to call. I can't wait for February.

There are rumours doing the rounds online that we're going to sell a few players and put in a bid for Villa at Valencia. I think that this is pure speculation. It does sound like he's not happy there while Koeman rocks the boat but I can't see Rafa paying the required £20m plus for him, especially as he'd be cup tied in the champions league. I think that we'll only do small business in Jan. We may sell a few and sign a defender but I can't see us splashing the cash for big deals.

The Irish Independent had an interview with James McCarthy today. He's been heavily linked with us in the past but has yet to make a decision about his club future but he's declared for Ireland which is a bonus.

Enjoy your Christmas dinner and let's hope that we're in a festive mood after the Derby game on Wednesday.

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