Bon dia Positivistas,
By no means the result we were looking for but a decent performance last night against FCB I thought. There was no timidity in our approach, we brought the game to the opposition from the first to the last whistle. To meet and beat that mob, a side requires a faultless performance in defence and in converting the handful of chances that will come your way. And if by some chance you do manage to get a result over the 90 minutes then you have to do it all again, at their place! Just at the moment we are not doing ‘faultless’. Another season passes with the Champions League trophy distant on the horizon, we can see the route, we have a guide but it remains at least a day’s trek away (see above).
I thought a number of our players deserve a special mention for their efforts last night. The two most obvious are Alex Iwobi and Mo Eleny both of whom did not just put in an excellent physical performance to wrestle ownership of the midfield back and forth, they passed well, tackled cleanly and behaved as ‘professionals’. A first and very good goal for Mo that, for a little while at least, rattled Barcelona. I thought Danny and Alexis both hammered away all night in an effort to get on the score sheet. Ospina has taken over smoothly from Cech to the extent that no one even mentioned his second choice status last night. In spite of the usual naming and shaming hysteria on social media I did not see any of our players who put in what you might call a poor or bad performance.
My God I even thought the referee did OK.
Onward to Merseyside on Saturday lunchtime. While there may be an argument that we will be at a disadvantage after just two days recuperation, I thought we looked as though we had plenty of energy last night, even in the final few minutes. Our record against Saturday’s opponents is a little erratic. Traditionally they were easy meat home and away but in recent years have put up more of a fight, especially on their home turf.
There is cause for some optimism though. While Everton had a good win against Chelsea in the Cup we arrive with their Premier League form at Goodison in poor shape. Checking their last nine home PL games shows just one win (against Newcastle) four draws, and five defeats. Their most recent setbacks a 2-0 lead against the ‘Appy ‘Ammers ending in a 2-3 defeat, and a loss to Pulis’ mighty West Brom. Clearly home form like that would be grounds for a very large banner indeed in certain parts of North London but Martinez, smooth-talking Spanish chappie that he is, has floated serenely past the flak with the FA Trophy a useful shield.
Hopefully we can dent Roberto’s bland confidence and regain a little of our momentum for the final Premier League run-in. There is still a prize to play for, be in no doubt.
Have fun, but don’t go mad.