Saturday, January 24, 2009

Not a bad effort

Well, even though we lost 2-1, I was impressed with the effort by the team today, not quite what I would hope for, but it was a thousand times better than Burnley the other night. The early goal from Pavy was great, nice flick on by Huddlestone and a good glancing header, we need more of those, that is what Pavy does well. Alnwick played a lot better, he's still not ready to be our No. 2, or to challenge Gomes, but with a little more seasoning he should do well. The team played with heart tonight, but I think we all knew what was coming before the goals arrived. United were pouring the pressure on, so it was only a matter of time. The first one was a fluke, you couldn't fault Alnwick or Huddlestone. The second one we were caught napping. I never like to see us lose, but with the League being the priority and the League Cup and the UEFA Cup still coming, I am kind of glad we have the fight on one fewer front.

If we put forth this effort against Stoke Tuesday night, and have some more of our injured come back in the side, I think we'll find three points the result.

Player Ratings

Alnwick- 6.5 Night and day compared to the other night. Couldn't be faulted at all on the first goal, it was going wide before it deflected off Huddlestone. He couldn't really be faulted for the second either, Berbatov slipped in between Dawson and Corluka and that was all. Made a tremendous save in the first half off Tevez. Has a bright future, but isn't ready as of yet, but much better today.

Gunter- 7 I know I'll probably be seen as crazy, but for me Gunter was our best defender tonight. Covered well at right-back, made some good moves forward, but what was impressive for me was the way he slotted inside to cover in the center several times. Made a great stop in the first half on Welbeck coming across and other tackles as well. Looked better on the ball, he's young as well, and I think with a loan or an extended run of games could be a great right-back for us.

Dawson- 6 Solid, not spectacular, exactly what you expect from him. Did well captaining the side, did the dirty work and worked hard. Caught napping when Berbatov beat Corluka in the first half, but otherwise a decent performance, nothing less than I expect from him.

Corluka- 5.5 Did not look as comfortable in the middle as he has on the right side. Maybe was playing through injury as well, but didn't look sharp at all, clearly beat with the Berbatov goal, and never looked comfortable on the ball all evening. As consistent as he is at right-back, not great in the middle tonight.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto- 5 Well, he didn't try to score on us tonight, but didn't do much more than that. Caught out several times, Welbeck ran all over him, and was lacking in cover. I know it seems my judgement is clouded against him, he just seems to be a liability, though Bale is no better. Tonight it seems like the two were acting out "Dumb and Dumber."

Bentley- 6 Put forth another good effort, we're seeing glimpses of the player we paid so much money for, with a couple of the crosses this evening. Defensively he didn't do much, and he needs to be more consistent, but not as bad as previous outings.

Zokora- 5.5 Always battles, but his touch was clearly missing this evening. Gave away several balls in bad positions, and came late on several tackles. But came through when needed, and like I said, you can never fault the effort.

Huddlestone- 6 Played a lot better than the other night. A wonderful pass to Pavy for the goal, and made some good passes throughout the night. Tackled decently, looked more settled than as of late, but still needs to bring his tackling and some of his passing up a notch. No shots taken tonight, one of his strengths.

Bale- 5 The other half of "Dumb and Dumber" for me. Welneck made Bale and BAE look awful, the tackling was non-existent, Welbeck, Tevez and O'Shea just ran past them a lot. Bale's strength has been his passing, but tonight was clearly missing. And he shouldn't run at the center of the United defense when Pavy, Modric and Bentley are available, but just my opinion.

Modric- 5.5 Missing in action a lot tonight, Carrick seemed to have taken the role of shutting him down, and did so well. Went off at the half, injured maybe? Never looked comfortable, and not sure what Harry was thinking, having Luka mark Carrick in defense, definitely not his strong suit. Hopefully he'll look better Tuesday.

Pavlyuchenko- 6.5 Great goal, well taken, beating Vidic. Combined more with Modric, Huddlestone and Zokora. Didn't get the service he needed in the second half, but definitely plays his best football for us in the Cups.


Giovanni- 6 Had a decent effort near the end of the match, but largely got lost in the play. Didn't take the game by the scruff of the neck, but he's not that type of player, but still was invisible at times. I would think he'd put more of an effort in knowing he doesn't get many chances, but got lost tonight.

Taarabt- 6.5 Another good effort from him, he brings a spark to the side. He has some flair, and puts in some bite, I want to see him more in the side. Don't know if he's ready for the starting 11, but a great spark to bring on in the 70th minute I'd think. Ran at players, made decent crosses, that's where he needs to work, but overall showing why Harry called his play "genius" in training a month or so ago.

Defoe- 5.5 Didn't have a chance to get involved really, no service was coming forward at this point. I think pairing him with Pavy is the best partnership, but they didn't get a chance to show it tonight. No real efforts, but did make some good runs.

Overall, not as bad as I thought it would be, but let's for better Tuesday night.

1 comment:

  1. Good analysis. I was also happy to see them play better even though it wasn't a win. Tuesday's game should be good.