Sunday, April 22, 2007

Game 35 - FFC 1 Blackburn 1

I may be in a minority but I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday. I thought it was a thrilling contest in which our endeavour countered Blackburn's quality. The players finally showed the level of passion and fight we've all been crying out for and the atmosphere in the Hammersmith End was fantastic. I really can't remember the last time I heard us in such good voice. All this is a clear indication of exactly how bad our situation is and there's no hiding from the fact that we did let our best opportunity to gain three points slip away. Having said that though, Blackburn were very very good and we rode our luck on so many occasions that just not losing was still a heroic feat.

I was particularly impressed by Radzinski who despite putting in some decent performances this season still comes in for a lot of stick. I've been surprised he hasn't been brought back into the left wing role earlier, as this is a slot we have clearly been struggling with and whilst not a left winger Radz has been the most effective player in that role to date. On Saturday I think he may have put on one of his best performances in a white shirt despite, yet again, coming a cropper against our rock hard electronic advertising hoardings as he chased a seemingly lost cause to keep the ball in play. Big Papa Bouba Diop was also back to his best form. A towering performance from the Wardrobe even though it consisted almost exclusively of winning battles in the air and firing super powered headers in all directions. Zat Knight and Phillippe Christanval were excellent together in defence, Zat doing especially well after a inconsistent season. Boca played well at left back, nothing too fancy just solid defending. Simon Davies looked so much more comfortable on the right wing though again fluffed a decent chance to find the target. Macca worked very hard (as always) with a lot of our balls aimed for his head and Montella sniffing around for the knock downs and oozing quality. I thought Liam did OK as well, though it was his mistake, diving in to try and make a tackle when he should have stayed on his feet, that led to the goal.

The subs were quite interesting too. Volz came on for Christanval which led me to believe PC must have been injured, yet in Sanchez post match interview, he gave the impression it was because he was trying to play the ball out of defence rather than hoof it up field, which is a clear indication of what Sanchez is trying to achieve. This change pushed Liam to left back and Boca to the centre. Now many people claim that Moritz should be our first choice right back, yet, as much I love Volzy, I thought he made 2 or 3 mistakes early on that could have easily been more costly. For me Liam deserves to get the nod at the moment for his defensive abilities, but I'm glad to see Volzy back in the squad and wouldn't be adverse to him having another run out in midfield. Routledge came on for Montella and interestingly played in a attacking role which I think could make very good use of his talent. We are shockingly short of alternatives up front, and Routledge's pace and ability could certainly cause defences some problems. Finally Clint Dempsey replaced Radz and did very little. I don't want to be too harsh on Clint as I am sure he has more to offer, I just don't think he's going to offer it this season. I can't understand why Claus Jensen, a player with massive experience cannot get in the team ahead of him, but for consecutive managers to leave him in the cold, maybe there is something else going on that isn't apparent.

With hindsight I guess the 2nd half was not as good as the first, and the momentum we had early on was lost as we struggled to cope with Blackburn's efficient passing and pacy attack. We really could have lost this game 5-1 and had the woodwork to thank or more than one occasion. Niemi made a couple of impressive saves, and when he was wanting, failing to close down an attack in the 1st half, Zat was there to sweep up behind. Prior to kick-off I felt we had to win the game, yet the manner of the performance has left me optimistic that we can get the points we need to survive. There's nothing to lose at Arsenal and with their season pretty much wrapped up and not being renowned for coping with physical football, maybe we can get an unexpected result at the Emirates. Failing that we've had results before against Liverpool so all is not yet lost.

JINXWATCH: My goal drought is finally over, Vincenzo Montella scoring the first Premiership goal I have seen in 685 minutes of football (I miscalculated in my previous post it was worse than I thought), however we still didn't win which means I have not seen us win a Premiership game this season. Therefore the new Jinx Watch stands at 8 games without a victory. Hope I can knock that one on the head in two weeks time and we can all sleep a lot more soundly at night!

The View From The Hammy End

Second half corner, balloons still floating about, Graham Poll looking imperious

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