COLUMNIST KEN BUCKLEY
Three superb points that keeps the faint hopes alive for that so important Euro spot, from a game that saw joined-up stuff triumph over hoofball. Blackburn, with only two defeats at home and not conceding a goal for some time, are no-one’s pushover and proved it by coming from behind twice but in the end I am sure they will concede that the superior side won, albeit just.
The Blues started with Hibbert restored to right back, allowing Neville to take the injured Heitinga’s place and the very welcome sight of Arteta deemed fit enough to take up the injured Osman’s place. The Blues, or in this case the black and pinks, started in imperious fashion with passing movements that resembled the cream of Europe’s best teams.
On the five-minute mark, a great move saw Arteta in the box turning the right back, in the process of going past Nelson, was upended and the Ref had little choice to award a penalty. Up stepped Arteta sending the keeper the wrong way and netting and sending the thousands of travelling faithful into raptures.
Now until half-time, all the football was played by Everton but it was mostly on the break as Blackburn did what Blackburn do. Long balls, long throws and ever looking to gain a set piece that could be lumped in — and this they are very good at. It produced some heart-stopping moments for the faithful as six-yard box scrambles became quite incessant... none more than when, after some pinball, Cahill hacked away from the goal-line.
Cahill was tackling anything that moved and was lucky not to get booked for one late one. Olsson had a goal-bound effort hit his own man then, in the same melee, Jags blocked Dunn and the ball was scrambled clear. Corners and Pederson's mammoth throws had Howard on pins as Dunn stood on his toes at each one.
In-between these onslaughts, we did from time to time break on the counter and stretch the home side and, with a little more care with the final pass, Blackburn could have been embarrassed further. Arteta was at the heart of all our good play but almost got himself sent off for raising his hands to the face of Pederson after being kicked by the Blackburn man, he was lucky just to see yellow.
Just as I was thinking we need half-time, Andrews drilled one in that Howard spilled but grabbed it at the second attempt. The whistle blew and, although the better footballing side, we had been seriously examined by aerial bombardment but, with resilience and a little luck, had survived.
The second half started and again it was the Blues on the front foot, playing some delightful stuff with the returning Hibbert linking well with Pienaar and putting in some good crosses — none more than just before the hour mark, when after an interchange he headed for the by-line and put in a peach of a cross for Cahill who headed over with the keeper beaten by the cross and goal gaping. Most unlike Cahill to miss those but from his animated gestures he seemed to indicate he had lost it in the sun.
Next Baines got on the end of another spell of excellent passing and put in a thunderous shot that cannoned off the post, we were playing them off the park now but, in true football fashion, just a couple of minutes later, near the 70min mark, N'Zonzi received the ball in midfield, sent Arteta the wrong way and after a couple of strides hit a 30-yd screamer past the diving Howard. After our superb play found ourselves all square.
The manager swapped Bilyaletdinov, who had an in-and-out game, for Big Vic. We seemed a little rattled and Blackburn buoyant as they pressed with more hoofball and set pieces, from one of these, Nelson headed just over and on to the top of the net. The manager then made a very positive substitution by replacing Hibbert, who had had a very good game, with the Yak and he was to have an enormous effect on the rest of the game.
He was just on when Baines did to Blackburn what they had been doing to us all match, he took a long throw (I didn’t know he could throw that far) which was flicked on by Big Vic and bundled home by the Yak with his first touch of the ball. The roof came off, the Yak song was sung and, with just 10 minutes to go, many of us thought surely we can see this out now after the practice we have had...
But no, we couldn’t... because within 2 mins it was all square again when the Blackburn sub Roberts lashed one home from 20 yds. It was hard to take and much muttering and head shaking took place... But soon the mammoth away following got behind the boys again, willing that elusive win as time ticked away.
90 mins were reached and we were still playing exquisite football which paid off when the ball was fed to the Yak in the box; his first touch was sublime, he turned and left his man for dead in a speedy movement that the Yak of Villa was incapable of, he crossed along the goal line for the tireless Cahill to tap home, you just had to be there to appreciate the celebrations of both players and fans.
Yobo was sent on in place of Saha, would it have the same effect as Villa? It didn’t... the whistle went, all joined in the celebration, and the after-match banter had a marked difference from the Villa game; as they say, goals change games — also, wins change moods.
Overall I was delighted with our display as we stuck to the joined-up stuff when it would have been easy to fall back into hoofball to match the Blackburn approach. The return of Arteta made a significant difference as he was a focal point until tiring in the last quarter. When you consider Blackburn’s home record, we proved we are up there with the best of them by deservedly winning.
MotM? Most said Arteta and he made some difference but for me, and considering the type of opposition, tactics, and play, I give it to Cahill for a mammoth shift at the back, midfield and attack — even after he was booked, he shirked nothing. A special mention for Hibbert after being out for quite a while; he had a very good game, even going forward.
Just three games to go, two at home and this one should be a good rehearsal
for Stoke away... so I will hang on to my prayer-beads for a little longer. Who
knows what can happen in this great game of ours?
UP THE BLUES
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1 Posted 18/04/2010 at 16:13:37
Long may it continue and fingers crossed for Europe.
2 Posted 18/04/2010 at 18:40:25
3 Posted 18/04/2010 at 18:41:01
4 Posted 18/04/2010 at 18:58:57
Picked up on a couple of interesting points while watching online.
1. Stephen Pienaar (being targeted by Spurs, ffs) is the PL's 'most fouled player'. Came as absolutely no surprise, but good to hear my suspicions confirmed by some statto somewhere.
2. Maybe I dreamt this, but seem to recall Bily almost effortlessly launching a couple of throw-ins to around the penno spot mark. Maybe the Delapification of our Russian semi-misfit is the answer!
In spite of going to bed last night totally coyb-ed up on the back of this win, I'm back on 2010-11 focus now after Villa's win at Pompey. Its 8th nailed on, unless Brum win their last three and net 17+ goals, I'm afraid chaps.
5 Posted 18/04/2010 at 19:58:35
Overall, however, yet more plaudits for Moyes and the boys for another demonstration of cute passing and — this time — fightback spirit.
6 Posted 18/04/2010 at 21:19:58
1891, 1915, 1939, 1963, 1987, 2011
Dare to dream my friends.
7 Posted 18/04/2010 at 21:39:39
8 Posted 18/04/2010 at 22:15:05
Although we don't know what will happen at any club over the summer & it all depends upon myriad ifs, buts & maybes - it is not completely inconceivable, as long as the planets are suitably aligned, of course!
9 Posted 18/04/2010 at 22:53:25
10 Posted 19/04/2010 at 00:48:55
11 Posted 19/04/2010 at 15:59:37
12 Posted 19/04/2010 at 21:20:13
And while that reporter was right to give him MotM as a glory of the game, the fans know, don't they Ken, that it takes all sorts to win make a team, and Tiger Tim was the first to get stuck into them when the call went out to 'win the ball' from the Bolton - sorry, Blackburn bench. Like Carsley, Stubbs and many many more back over the years, we have to have fearless players leading by example, and Tim did a masterclass in that last Saturday. The winner? Icing on the cake — very, very sweet icing.
I had a quick chat with a youngish (everyone is youngish to me) Arsenal supporter (drowning his sorrows). Everton, he said, probably my second favourite, don't spend fortunes buying players... etc. I mentioned Cahill, at £1.5m (I hope I was right). His jaw dropped and he almost shouted HOW MUCH? Sometimes it's hard not to look smug.
The Capitan in midfield — "Oh no!" we all groaned — did very well. It just goes to show that you can teach an old dog new tricks. He must have looked at Johnny come lately time and again until the penny dropped — "Oh, that's how you do it." And he did quite a lot of it.
Totally agree about Hibbo. Excellent defender who must have been looking from the stands and thinking, "That's what I should be playing like." And a bit of pressure from Coleman can do him no harm.
They did us proud all over the park against very difficult opposition (I didn't say a very good side) and to hear other voices purring about our play — the Barcelona of the North? — is pure magic.
It can be done and I hope it will be.
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