In theory we should all be moaning about the loss of two points and the fact that we have only scored one goal in open play in three games. In theory we should be worried that we haven’t been able to beat teams like Wigan and Manchester City. In theory. But I take a lot of positives out of today. We dominated the game in a way I have rarely seen. We passed. We looked like a team who had played together before, in stark contrast to the Manchester City game. We tackled as if we meant it and although the final pass sometimes didn’t come, there was great movement in the side.
I felt that our forward players did well, although Bobby Zamora lost out to often and his shooting boots had been left at home. Matty Etherington was simply outstanding at times and with Kieron Dyer wreaking havoc down the right it was a mystery as to how we didn’t score in the first half.
The other highlight of the game was Mark Noble. He was everywhere – taking free kicks, corners, shooting at will, tackling as if he meant it. Dean Ashton showed some delightful touches when he came on with half an hour to go. He should have been on from the beginning. If he had been, I’m pretty sure we would have gone in a goal up. He has such a great touch for such a big man. His body is simply awesome. When he took his training shirt off all you could see were rippling muscles under his stretch vest. He still looks a tad heavy, but he needs match practice, not half an hour here and there. It’s great news that Curbishley has said he will start against Bristol Rovers on Tuesday.
Anyway, much as I would like to have got another two points, let’s remember we are above Spurs and Man U are in the drop zone. We have four points out of nine. Thay ratio would give us 51 points at the end of the season…
And so to the points
Green 8 had little to do. Was not to blame for the goal
Ferdinand 8 Did brilliantly keeping Heskey quiet
Upson 7 Solid. Distribution a little poor at times
Neill 6 Weak first half. Never got close to the Wigan winger. Maybe back too soon?
McCartney 7 Some great runs going forward
Noble 9 Simply outstanding. Has put the Man City holiday behind him.
Mullins 7 Sublime pass in the first half was the pass of the game.
Etherington 9 Definitely back to his rampaging best
Dyer 8 He’s fast. Lack of final pass lets him down, but a great home debut
Zamora 6 A very average performance from Bobby
Bellamy 8 He’s fast too. Very committed. Loves a hard tackle. Subbed with a groin strain
Bowyer 7 Let’s hope his first goal leads to many more
Ashton 8 Made a real difference with his height and physical presence
Boa Morte 7 Several nice touches towards the end
Alan Curbishley 7 marked down for not playing Ashton from the start. Could have cost us three points.