By Karl M. Tinsley
MY 3 STARS
1. EMMANUEL EBOUE: A complete game from “Da Screwface”. He was dominant on both sides of the ball. Supreme in attack and tidy in defense. His crosses were timed well and accurate.
Had numerous long pacy runs down the right flank, penetrated the Hammers defense and won 2-3 F.K.’s around the edge of the West Ham 18 yard box. Tossed in a crafty one-touch pass to pick out Cesc in heavy traffic at the top of the box that Cesc was then able to win a P.K. from…CULTURED!!.
Should have gotten another assist earlier in the match when his low cross across the front of the net was left begging by Arshavin’s failure to finish off his run deep. Eboue has finally found consistency to his game as evidenced by his ability to pump in solid performances match after match. Haven’t seen this level of high play from him since the run to the C.L. Final in 2006.
2. ALEXANDRE SONG: An absolute superb effort by Song in the centre of the pitch. I believe he won every 50/50 ball in the first half and vacuumed up every loose ball within 10-15 feet of him all match. He was supreme in the midfield. Added to the stellar defense was excellent ball distribution to his teammates that launched numerous offensive attacks on the Hammers defense.
He was golden in the second half against Drapela, with his inch perfect toe tackle to prod the ball away at the last second…MONEY!!. Later on in the 2nd half he went up strong against the big man Carlton Cole and did a great job of shutting him down one on one.
3. CESC FABREGAS: Admittedly his first half effort was merely “decent” as he looked a little out of sync with his passing, positional play and first touch. But he did manage to turn it around in the second half after kicking off the rust in the first half.
He led by example and when we needed him the most he won us a P.K. and then coolly slotted home that crucial 2nd goal to put the game to bed for us and secure the 3 pts. Such is Cesc’s skill and importance to the Club that he can have an average game and still be instrumental to our good fortunes. Long Live Emperor Cesc!!
GAEL CLICHY: Was looking very lively on the left flank all match. Gael was getting up the pitch regularly in attack and served up some threatening crosses into the Hammers 18 yard box. I felt that Gael and Andriy teamed up well together and showed a growing chemistry together on the left flank.
With these two in sync together and Eboue sparkling on the right flank…we are now able to really stretch teams wide and open up a lot of space in the centre for Cesc and Nasri etc to operate in and Bendtner to get into the channels.
MANUEL ALMUNIA: Wasn’t called on to do much…however…his P.K. save off Diamanti at the death of the first half…was truly monumental. It easily was the turning point of the match. It preserved our slender lead and sent the lads into the changing room on a huge high.
Nice to see Almunia finally come up trumps for us in a must win situation. He needed that stop for his confidence. Hoping he can build on that in the coming weeks and months. We are going to need some big big stops from him down the stretch if we are to capture silverware this season.
DENILSON: He got us off to a flying start with his early goal and in the process allowed the players to relax and play with more freedom in front of the home crowd. His goal showed off a lovely left footed finish that came from a clever little 1-2 worked with Bendtner.
Denilson showed great technique…got his head up, picked his spot and then crushed it inch perfect to the bottom right corner…PROPER!!.
NICHOLAS BENDTNER: Didn’t do anything spectacular but he did combine well with Denilson to set up his first goal. Nicky also looked very good in the air and with his first touch. He did a great job controlling Almunia’s clearances and Eboue’s/Clichy’s crosses. Seems to have gotten himself on a roll just in time for us…what with Barca on tap at the end of the month and a big road match against Birmingham this weekend.’
MARTIN ATKINSON: Complete douche-bag call against Thomas Vermaelen. The P.K. was at best highly dubious…but to then turn around and give Vermaelen a straight red on top of the P.K. was excessive and spiteful. It was all the more galling when you watched the replay and realized that Atkinson was on the other side of centre and at least 60+ yards from where the “infraction” occurred. Bloody awful refereeing. It is a travesty for us to loose Vermaelen at such a critical stage of the season over a totally bogus call. But nothing really new with this type of action…we always seem to have to beat 12 men every week.
The effort in the second half of the match against West Ham was magnificent…10 men controlled the match and bossed the ball with guile and confidence. We ran an 11 man West Ham club off the pitch. It was an inspiring performance…hopefully an effort they can bottle and channel for the next 2 months. The squad has certainly found its rhythm at the crucial time of the season. They’ve pumped in 3-4 complete team efforts the last 2-3 weeks. Up and down the roster everybody is now performing at a high level and contributing.
IF they continue on with this level of performance and commitment…I see no reason we can’t finish the EPL season with 6 wins and a draw…which should be enough for us to pip Chelsea and Man Utd for the title. We just need to avoid anymore injuries and hopefully get Gallas back sooner than later and we should be OK for a great run in.
The Barca draw in C.L. is a difficult ask but it should be a real celebration of what is beautiful in the game of football. Onwards to Birmingham and I think a offensive breakout match for the lads.
GUNS IN GUNS OUT