Southampton 0 - 0 Everton
Briefly under threat after Friday's snowfall, this televised Monday encounter went ahead as scheduled but Everton's attack remained in the deep freeze as they racked up their 11th draw in 23 games with a largely poor display at the St Mary's Stadium.
After putting the 3,000 hardy souls who made the trek south for this one through a shocking first half, one in which they had some goal-line heroics to thank for retaining parity going into half time, the Blues perked up for a time after the interval and had the chances to win it but Nikica Jelavic blew the best of them and otherwise found Artur Boruc in indefatigible mood in the Saints' goal.
It was a game that will have done almost nothing to dispel the gathering gloom around a side that appears to be struggling from a collective fatigue, a diminishing belief that Champions League qualification is attainable with such a shallow squad, or both. There is no question that the team needs an urgent injection of fresh blood but, with no virtually money to spend, everything will depend on David Moyes's ability to fish the loan market in the final 10 days of the transfer window.
The nine days' rest prior to this fixture were supposed to have offered an opportunity for the players to recharge their batteries a little but it was Southampton, despite the disruption caused by the sudden dismissal of Nigel Adkins last week, who looked lively and motivated in the first 45 minutes.
Indeed, Everton were unusually subdued and were out-fought and out-thought for a good deal of the opening exchanges by their more hungry hosts. Phil Jagielka came within a whisker of slamming the ball into his own net but his interception of a low cross from the right whistled inches wide and Puncheon's effort was also deflected behind a few minutes later as Southampton searched for an early breakthrough.
Striker Ricky Lambert came within inches of it in the 20th minute when Phil Neville's clumsy foul gave him a free-kick opportunity from around 25 yard but he whacked a terrific shot off the post, though Tim Howard appeared to have it covered with a full-length dive. And after Steven Naismith had despatched a low effort straight into Boruc's arms, Lambert had another great opportunity but, having neatly turned his man, he was unable to beat Howard who beat his effort away.
Rather than signalling an end to the Saints' early superiority, those were warning signings and after Howard had turned Gaston Ramires' drive behind, Lambert unchallenged to head powerfully goalwards. A combination of the goalkeeper and Jelavic stopped his effort on the line, though, and Howard was fortunate that when the return ball fell straight to Hooiveld the defender's chest and volley came straight at him and the Blues' defence was able to desperately hack it away again.
A promising interchange between Jelavic and Naismith almost opened up the home defence but Boruc raced off his line to claim the ball before the Scot could collect the one-two pass before Lambert despatched another free header wide when he should have done better.
After as poor a first half display as Everton have put in since perhaps the lame defeat at Tottenham a year ago, the second period could only have been better from the Blues' perspective and it was... but not enough to earn the win that would have pulled them within a point of Spurs in the race for the fourth Champions League spot.
Six minutes after the restart, Fellaini brought down a deep cross by Seamus Coleman but Boruc saved the Belgian's shot superbly with his legs and the 'keeper was on hand to deny him again from the resulting corner, Fellaini planting a close-range header straight into his arms.
Coleman was forced off after 55 minutes with a thigh injury sustained as he lunged to block a Luke Shaw cross back at the other end and he would be replaced by Victor Anichebe who came on for an Everton corner that was cleared only as far as Leon Osman but his rocketed first-time shot cannoned off Yoshida's head an behind.
As has been the case since his most recent return from injury, Anichebe's impact off the bench was pleasing and within three minutes he had laid on the best chance of the game for Jelavic when he latched onto Fellaini's perfectly-weighted through-ball, but the Croatian appeared to over-run the square pass, got it stuck under his feet and the opportunity evaporated.
Apart from a difficult headed opportunity that had dropped tamely wide in the first half, that had been Jelavic's only chance but it was as illustrative an example of his blown confidence as Moyes has seen this season and it was enough to prompt the manager to withdraw him five minutes later.
Kevin Mirallas came on after six weeks out with a hamstring injury and hope sprung that his direct running and creativity might provide the spark to create a crucial goal.
Initially, it looked like the Fellaini-Anichebe combination would provide that opening but Boruc again foiled Everton by pawing the striker's shot wide. But when Mirallas popped up in the six yard box a few minutes later, his first touch was good but he smashed a left-footed half-volley half a yard wide.
Unfortunately, that would be as good as it got for Everton and, just as was the case against Swansea, they appeared to run out of ideas completely in the final 15 minutes. The increasing reliance on the big boot forward never looked like working and with Osman, Naismith, Baines and, to a lesser extent, Pienaar all having decidedly off days, there was a desperate shortage of creativity, drive and determination in the Everton ranks.
Mirallas would line up one last shot from outside the box in injury time but, in the main, it was depressingly uninspired fare from the Blues in the closing stages.
Everton may still be fifth despite dropping four points in their last two games and they remain well-positioned in their quest for fourth place but in all brutal honesty they looked several shades short of the quality required for that lofty aim this evening.
The positives were few but heart should be taken from the return of Mirallas, the form and attitude shown by Anichebe, and the fact that the Blues avoided defeat yet again. Wins from their next two League games, both at Goodison, would, of course, change the picture substantially but on the evidence of the last two draws, that looks a tall order. You can't escape the feeling that urgent work in the transfer market is what is required if Moyes is unable to find another catalyst for his small squad.
Man of the Match: Tim Howard
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551 Posted 21/01/2013 at 23:58:17
Agree entirely with Lyndon's last point. The squad needs freshening even if it's a couple of loans. Pienaar has been poor the last few games and even Ossie had a poor game tonight. We need to be able to change things around and there is not enough options on the bench. As others have noted teams are starting to learn how to close our left side down. A midfielder and attacker would be my priority.
556 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:23:59
One key player promptly takes his place at the treatment table.
564 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:20:24
This was dire stuff really. The better second half shouldn't kid anyone. We need to beat teams like Southampton if those expectations are to be even remotely satisfied. I know its hard. We have done brilliantly to get into this position. Great work by Moyes and the players, superb support. But what's the point if its all going to drift away into nothing, again? Take the bloody gamble EFC. Spend that £22m Felli money now, or at least half of it. Take the risk, he's off in the summer if no CL so give it a go. It's simplistic isn't it ?
Typical footy fan amateur view of life? Maybe so but somehow it just feels like a managed risk not a mad gamble. Sell JH and Gueye if at all poss. Shake it all up and give Moyes this chance to get us into the top four. Bill, I can't see u doing it but I'm asking and I'm pretty sure I won't be the only one after tonight's pathetic first half as frankly a bit more of that and its a season of what could have been.
571 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:48:57
Why oh why did I have to be born an Evertonian? At least I wasn't manufactured!
572 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:39:23
Biggest disappointment for me this season has got to be Jelavic. I honestly thought he would get 30 goals this season. I can't believe the ass has fallen out of his game so completely.
I felt sorry for any neutrals watching that display tonight, never mind the 3,000 who made the trip south. The players should be ashamed of themselves after serving up such a lacklustre performance.
573 Posted 22/01/2013 at 00:57:08
576 Posted 22/01/2013 at 01:37:42
WBA next under the Goodison lights, then the Villa at home. Surely 6 points is achievable from these two games, and then the belief that 4th is still possible will return.
577 Posted 22/01/2013 at 02:39:40
578 Posted 22/01/2013 at 03:35:35
581 Posted 22/01/2013 at 03:15:07
My own feeling is that the squad is not remotely capable of finishing 4th and that Moyes realises this and has now gone to his trusted strategy of not losing rather than going for wins at all costs. This is not a criticism btw because I feel that given our resources we still do incredibly well.
As you can also see, as time goes on, we are not going to get outward investment... so what we see now is what we have to live with. All-in-all, it was still a decent point at a place where we typically don't shine. Fabulous support for a Monday night in winter.
589 Posted 22/01/2013 at 05:09:51
Second half I thought we improved with Anichebe coming on.
Another clean sheet... but we need an urgent replacement for Jelavic. We cannot keep on relying on him with this current form of his.
It's okay to say he will get better. In the here and right now, we need someone to step up and take his place or at least play alongside him.
Can we risk not playing him? Think of it this way, would playing young Vellios up front really be any worse with the state of confidence Jelly is already in?
We need to urgently win matches. Anichebe has proven he is a great impact sub and that's about all he is. Vellios has to be given a chance... maybe it might make Jelly buck his ideas up.
If Jelavic needs competition for his place, and I think if we can't bring anyone in, then it has to go to Vellios; we have nothing to loose but more to gain if he starts scoring... We are in this business to win matches, forwards score goals; if a forward is not performing, we need to bench and replace him until he proves he is back in form again.
Really tired and exhausted from these lack-lustre performances and the large amount of draws. Unable to finish games off... why can't the midfield chip in and score?
We are absolutely inept at the moment in front of goal. The manager needs to take action now... not keep on relying on a forward who couldn't hit a barn door.
592 Posted 22/01/2013 at 05:53:22
If we had lost 6 and won 5 we would be better off points wise. We can look back and say only 3 losses in the last 20 plus games but so what?
596 Posted 22/01/2013 at 06:16:54
Best 11 fit every week, we'd be right up there but that obviously will never happen and we just don't have the depth of others.
I won't over-analyse last night, no escaping that it was a poor performance by this team's standards BUT (time for glass half full moment), we didn't lose, which is something we seem to have acquired this season. Tottenham drew, Arsenal lost so no real change in league position. Although an opportunity missed against so called lower opposition, this is the time of year the teams at the bottom come out fighting.
Southampton worked incredibly hard to close down space quickly, have not lost in 6, drawn 4 of the last 5 and were emotionally charged given the week's events. Excuses, excuses I know, but perhaps some perspective as well. Cue barrage of counter-arguments and abuse!!!!
598 Posted 22/01/2013 at 06:42:45
I don't buy the idea that Moyes gets all his strikers to just work the channels instead of concentrating on scoring. At the start of the season I believe Mirallas was getting in his way or not passing to him enough and the chances didn't come and after a while of not scoring it's affected him.
In all honesty, we either need to bring in another striker, midfield playmaker or just drop him.
602 Posted 22/01/2013 at 07:45:07
It's all well and good pointing the finger at Jelavic but if we're leaving him isolated up front because we're playing an 8-1-1 formation, he's feeding off scraps. Like strikers who have gone before him, Moyes is ruining Jelavic.
We're struggling for goals all season and what type of players is Moyes looking at this transfer window? Another fucking defensive midfielder and a central defender! Fuck me and people moan about the lack of respect and press coverage we get.
At least everyone can stop panicking about Moyes leaving. There's no way he's going to a 'top club'.
607 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:07:28
609 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:20:45
611 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:25:19
A few weeks ago we were calling Coleman terrible names for his "mistake" at Fulham while completely overlooking Heitinga's woeful defensive display in that (and other games).
Now we can all call Jelavic and start praising Anichebe. It was Anichebe's 150th game last night - he is averaging 2 games per season. But of course lets get rid of Jelavic.
Last night was disgraceful. I have argued consistently that Moyes is not a psychological manager. He does not seem to push the players when other results have an affect on us and in many games this season we have looked frightened - sadly against poor teams, QPR, and we looked terrified last night.
But the main thing is that we attack one player and leave others, who have played for many years, alone.
The midfield was dreadful last night. Osman and Piennar were woeful.Could not pass except to Southampton players. I have never seen a player fall over as often as Osman.
Moyes continues, seemingly forever, with his favourites but long term sticks to his safe 4 or 5 players. We do not seem to be a club that know how to move on, to develop.
Their full back last night, Shaw, looked positive, exciting. He is 17. Could you honestly see him doing so well under Moyes.
We got off to a good start this season playing exciting football. I said early on "I wonder how long Moyes will put up with this".
613 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:49:55
We have to beat West Brom now but I'm sure they will be thinking they could pinch something at our place. Still, we are fifth and I would have taken that after 23 games with only 3 losses and 4 points in front of Arsenal and the Shite.
617 Posted 22/01/2013 at 08:54:08
Look at our midfield of Neville, Osman Pienaar & Naismith - they must have the worst goals to games ratio of any midfield at a top ten club.
We have reverted to type I'm afraid, and the going gets very tough after West Brom and Villa at home.
Bolton will fancy their chances on Saturday, but a cup run may give us our confidence back.
We are now desperate for a couple of new faces, and a bit of competition for starting places. There are too many players who's place in the side is guaranteed, that's half the problem.
620 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:26:54
621 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:22:16
623 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:23:42
Last night was poor, Pienaar and Baines were out of sorts, our central midfield was weak, and Fellaini was trying to address 2 or 3 positions. Despite that, the defence played well to keep another clean sheet, and we had at least 4 very good chances in the second half. The next 3 games are even more important now, it has to be a good cup win and 6 points.
625 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:30:42
There is no excuse for missing that sitter last night and a few others this season but if he had someone to share the burden and make space for him I would expect his confidence and goals to return.
629 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:11:23
The season is long, and this is the time for some of our youngsters to shine, but they have to be given a fair chance. Moyes blew this game because he sent Barkley out on loan, and left Vellios out of the squad.
It is against lesser teams that we need to be testing our youngsters, while giving players such as Osman and Jelavic some competition. Junior could have been on the bench tonight instead of Hitz.
Long term, I am not at all surprised we are running out of steam because, with Moyes and his unwillingness to play ANY of his best youngsters, the axe will fall where it falls.
Adkins has got it right by playing his best youngsters, it was a game where the youngsters wanted to shine, Southampton's youngsters, because we had NONE of ours out there.
We are heading for a downfall, Moyes needs to step up and change things around for our long-term well being!
I would have liked to see more of Barkley, Junior, Vellios and McaAleny. I have faith they are the best youngsters we have and that they will come good once they are given a fair chance to shine like Jelavic has thus far.
631 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:42:40
and there, in a nutshell, you have it! That is not even a top 8 midfield!
Not knee-jerking but last night was the final nail in the coffin of my belief that we could overcome the financial odds and break the top four. We have hit our glass ceiling and without significant cash injection, even with Moyes who I think we are lucky to have, we will never again mix it with the big boys on a consistant basis.
Cup final and 2-1 defeat in that is our realistic highpoint I fear.
635 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:26:20
Form is temporary...Class is Permanent.
I believe the guy is class, people say he cost us 2 points last night by getting his feet in a tangle.... but what about the Spurs game where he turnt a draw into a win with a great poachers mentality strike?
Maybe a rest is what is needed, but I'm not about to get on the guys back...He is still better than AJ, Beattie, Saha etc
636 Posted 22/01/2013 at 09:59:02
Naismith should not be anywhere near the first team. Neville should never play midfield again, and what has happened to Osman? — he lost the ball on the edge of their box at least three times and they marauded forward unopposed each time.
I thought Coleman looked good and perhaps big Vic in his cameo. The rest just went through the motions...
Oviedo must be wondering why he came here and Jelavic needs a month out to help him think about his game.
Then again, Mirallas is back, Gibson will be back soon and one impressive signing this month could see us at least 'having a go' again...
639 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:13:47
645 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:17:24
647 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:13:39
There is no doubt that the form he showed at the back end of last season was that of a top class striker and he improved the team no end, but this season he hasn't just looked out of sorts he looks completely out of place. He has been given plenty of opportunity to play himself back into form but it just isn't happening.
If Anichebe had played up front as often and in as many games as Jelavic would so many fans have been as patient with him?
We never seem able to find the ideal forward to play in our team, Saha and Cahill were great in the air but lacked pace, Andy Johnson was similar to Jelavic but lacked the ability to hold the ball up and bring the midfielders onto the ball. The rest were just not good enough to play at high end PL level.
I don't think that its the case that Moyes' over-trains or that his emphasis on work rate spoils the strikers, I just believe that Moyes doesn't have a plan when it comes down to attacking strategies. Of course the financial situation isn't helping him as buying strikers is the most risky part of the business and DM can't afford to gamble with the money he has at his disposal.
How many games have we seen in the past five years in particular that are similar to last night?
If we want Jelavic to have more opportunities and to rediscover his goal scoring form we have to revert to a 4-4-2 in all matches and the second striker has to be just that a striker and not a make-shift forward like Felliani. As we can't afford to buy anyone, it will have to be either Anichebe or Velios. If we do revert to 442 then Mirallas has to be told to stay on the wing and stay outside the box and leave the strikers to get on with their job.
It may lead to us conceding more goals - last night we could have been 3-0 down in the first half - but it might just lead to us scoring more as well. It might be a gamble and cost us a European spot but not as risky as playing like we did last night where too few opportunities were carved out.
651 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:40:56
I nearly cried when Ossie had the ball taken from him for the 3rd time like he was 14 years of age. (Mainly 'cos that draw cost me a weeks wages!)
652 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:39:54
I still don't think Anichebe is a player, despite 20 mins of him looking good last night. Maybe start him in the next couple of games and bring Jelavic on for the last 20 mis when defenders are tired. It's unlikely we'll get another stiker in and so we need to make the best of what we have.
I would normally cringe at the idea of Fellaini in the middle of the park, he loses his marker to often and is a bit rash defensively, but we need to mix things up a bit and he played well there when dropped back last night. He says he sees himself as a midfielder, lets let him prove it. It might encourage the defenders not to hoof it as much, which has been creaping back into our play recently.
Everyone in the league has got onto Baines and Peinaar. I think we need to mix that up as well. Move Peinaar on to the right and let's see if he links up well with Coleman. Put Oveido on the left and give him a run in the team and see what he can do. He can't be worse than Naismith, who is terrible.
We don't have the luxury of rotating the playing squad to keep it fresh, we can make some changes to the style though. Managers look at hours of footage in the build up to match. We need to keep them guessing.
We need to win the FA cup game, 4th is going to be difficult without reinforcements and they're looking increasingly unlikely. It's going to be tough getting sixth with Arsenal and Liverpool hot on our tails. Europe via the FA Cup is as good a route as in the league.
653 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:31:41
Jelavic is an out and out striker that needs to be in the box,not running all over the place.
It's another case of "feed the yak".
It was only a matter of time until teams started to work out in how to stop Baines & Pienaar.
Last night was never going to be an easy match,but once again it was a match Everton should be capable of winning.
There were to many in our side that did not put in the required preformance which happens now and again.
My worry is Moyes has been slowly destroying another striker in Jelavic.
654 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:36:14
The familiar "under duress" look that eventually overtakes all our forward players has set in.
There is a fundamental lack of spark about the Everton set up and saying the cure is simply more players is a sop. It's like painting over rust, just covering the problem not dealing with it.
655 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:52:54
Oveido Mirallas Peinaar
Baines Distin Jags Coleman
With Jelavic coming on for Anichebe to try and work the defenders when they are tired and get his confidence back.
657 Posted 22/01/2013 at 10:51:41
659 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:04:55
Coleman ( if injured then Neville as theres no one else )
Pienaar/Hitz ( i'm undecided )
Anichebe ( can not believe i've actually put him in a starting 11 )
660 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:02:40
661 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:10:45
669 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:36:20
Post of the week that, mate. Brilliant.
672 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:09:34
Howard and Jags must have launched 25 diagonal balls into the Southampton half, all in the general direction of Fellaini. Are we trying to be the new Stoke?
Of course it all stems from a lack of a central midfield, we don't have midfield players who want the ball, who will come deep and take the ball off the back four and start the play.
Our centre forward needs a rest, his confidence is low at the moment. Of course the service and support he is getting is not up to much.
I hope Coleman is not out for long as he starting to improve the defensive side of his game. Still, if he does not make the weekend then Neville will be moved from his midfield birth.
675 Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:07:19
Surely the positive to take from last night was, even though we were woeful in the first half, we managed not to concede, and the key is if you are playing bad then don't concede.
The other big positive is that Kevin Mirallas got some game time and Anichebe looked a threat, so don't give up on finishing 4th just yet.
677 Posted 22/01/2013 at 11:58:38
Jelavic has needed a few games rest for some time and now is the time to let him him have a break on the bench. He hasn't turned into a useless player overnight, but he has been getting far less chances and yes he looks a bit shell shocked so give him some bench time.
If Mirallas can keep fit then its a real option to play him alongside Victor, or wide right in front of Coleman or as seems likely for a bit, Neville.
It's obvious teams are getting better at handling Piennar/Baines partnership. Inevitable really. Have to mix it up and that right sided approach with a hopefully fit Mirallas can do just that. I would have given Oviedo a chance but then I'm crazy, I'd play him at LB and put Baines at left wing, it worked for Spurs with Bale so why is it we won't try it ?
There are some things you just can't do much about. If Gibson isn't fit, as he isn't most of the time, then that's our lot in midfield. Osman really has had some cracking games but he's not the ball winning centre mid player you need when struggling and that's why earlier I whiffed about the obvious inability of the club to gamble in this window and shell out for some strong creative playmaker in that crucial midfield position. But in the meantime and whilst he's still here I think dropping Felli back has to be done. It leaves us a bit short up top though which is why Moyes needs to try something different in attack.
I'm more frustrated than ever watching Everton right now and most seem to feel the same way. We genuinely are not far off that fourth spot if the club wants it enough. We are closer than I thought we could be and have performed no worse than Spurs or Arsenal. Better in many games. But to push on we need to gamble, and like I said, take a managed risk. I'm not asking to bring down the club for gods sake, just to take the risk and spend the £15m or so that might make the difference between fourth and seventh. The money comes back in the summer via Fellis inevitable sale and that of two or three others plus some of the new TV money. It's a measured risk, and if we don't take it what's the point? This is a football team, it's about results and success on the field. Forget all the other valid arguments about the Board, Kirkby, KD, shops in the Park End etc. This is a moment in time. It's about the football. Take the bloody risk.
682 Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:28:09
686 Posted 22/01/2013 at 12:54:05
Jelavic has come in for some stick but other teams that play with one up front have an attacking midfielder that makes forward runs to support the striker. We are playing Fellaini whose natural game is to drop into midfield rather than make forward runs. I would expect to see a turnaround in Jelavic's from if we played with Mirallas as attacking midfielder to give him some support.
704 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:10:38
705 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:18:39
706 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:20:24
707 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:20:24
709 Posted 22/01/2013 at 14:21:18
751 Posted 22/01/2013 at 16:14:00
812 Posted 22/01/2013 at 18:56:49
Since Mirallas has been injured, Everton have been much easier to defend against due to the reduction in pace and movement. Defenders have had more time to concentrate on Jelavic who has essentially been ploughing a lone trough for two months. This makes it more astounding that Moyes does not use Oviedo on the right.
I have written before that it wold mirror our left wing where we have a left-footed defender with a right footed midfielder infront of him. Oviedo has pace and skill and would occupy opponents a lot more than Naismith who makes runs knowing he cannot be passed to.
Gueye does not look the part so the alternative being switch Pienaar to the right. This should and is done during games in order to open up space on the left for Baines to overlap. So why not do the same on the right wing? This would fully occupy any opposing defence and midfield. Besides. How many defences in the PL could cope with two wingers? It works for Man Utd
889 Posted 22/01/2013 at 21:58:26
Additionally, Southampton made us look tired and listless, particularly in the 1st half. Osman had a horror of a game. I can hardly recall him making a decent pass and he was also being caught on the ball regularly. We appear to be becoming more static with every game.
Jela isn't even looking like scoring. I'd either give him a spell off the bench, a rest or a few games in the reserves, while giving some games to Velios. EWe do need to see what the lads made of and camios at the end of games don't really give him a chance. Oviedo certainly looks like he is up to PL standard, so use him. Naismith is predictable, has a poor first touch and has not been providing to players like Jela.
Also, we should do what we can to bring in a couple of players.
930 Posted 23/01/2013 at 07:12:14
Part of me thinks we should have more points than we currently have (home games against Newcastle and Norwich, aways at Fulham, Reading and Stoke spring to mind); however, at the same time, we have perhaps been a little fortunate to win games against Spurs and Sunderland and arguably a little lucky to escape from Monday night with a point so in many respects things have more or less started to even themselves out.
Whilst I feel that Jelavic will come good again with a goal or two and a fit Mirallas is going to be absolutely key to us, it is the centre of midfield which worries me. I am one of Phil Neville's biggest fans. I like his professionalism and leadership on the pitch and to be fair, he's put in a fair amount of decent performances this season for a man of his age. I just don't see though how a team going for the top 4 can continue to consistently play a 36-year-old in the centre of midfield. Granted, I'd still have him in at right back if we are short, but the legs just aren't there anymore for the midfield area. We need a ball winner ideally with a bit of pace in there. I like Gibson, but we could do with someone else to compensate for the time he is out injured.
If we were to make a signing, I'd like to see someone like a Mo Diame from West Ham come in. I was a bit disappointed we didn't pick him up on a free in the summer. The lad N'Diaye who Sunderland have just snapped up also looks a steal and someone in the mould that we could do with. If there were to be no signing, then I'd consider sticking Fellaini back in there (particularly taking into account big Vic's improvement up top).
Anyway, plenty of points to play for (and the FA Cup of course) and if we get right behind the lads, I think we have every chance of nicking that final Champions League qualifying spot.
082 Posted 23/01/2013 at 21:24:47
All the midfield permutations come out with above, other than Gibson. It's no surprise we look a better side with him in it. A bit of pace would nice too.
199 Posted 24/01/2013 at 12:44:43
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