Ahead of kick off I said the most important thing today, the necessity, was to secure the point that would take us back to the top of the league. Spurs are a good side and to get a draw at their place has to be considered a good result and a win would be a bonus.
When Rafael was sent off with 17 minutes of normal time remaining, a point was looking better than ever, so credit to our lads for not doing what Spurs do when a decision goes against them. We got stuck in and fought for the draw by keeping our opponents out. The home side only had two shots on target all game, both of which went tamely in to the arms of Edwin Van der Sar.
It was a real shame that Rafael was the player to go off after he had put in such a good shift up until that point. His first yellow card saw him win the ball but a raised leg meant it was easy enough for Dean (who wrongly penalised him in the first leg of the League Cup against City last season, awarding a penalty for a foul on Bellamy outside of the box) to put him in the book. The second booking was ridiculous though, with Rafael merely trying to get back in to position, and if anything, avoid the collision that took place. Thankfully, our lads ensured we didn’t have to pay the price for Dean’s incompetency. I really like Rafael though and the fact that he’s only 20 should be a source of great excitement for us. Can you imagine how good he’ll be in even just two years time?
Maybe I misunderstand the role Michael Carrick is supposed to play in our side. He mopped up effectively today, putting in a solid defensive performance and stopping the supremely talented Modric and Van der Vaart from causing too much trouble. But I thought he was supposed to be the creative one? With Ando, who loves getting forward, and Scholes, who can ping the ball all over the park, on the bench, you’d think that Carrick, playing alongside the more robust Fletcher, would be the attacking element in our central midfield. If he’s not, who is, and why are we playing 442 away from home without someone assigned to being our creativity outlet from the centre of the park?
Dimitar Berbatov would have had to have been in the game to play badly. He hardly got a touch. Should he take as much responsibility for that as his team mates who failed to find him? Probably. Wayne Rooney, who I’d been excited about returning before kick-off, didn’t do anything either… other than his ‘bouncing the ball of the shins’ trick he’s seemed to develop since March. He had our best chances of the game though, one early on which flashed across the face of goal, and one later on which Gomes made a very good save to stop going in.
Our defence worked as a solid unit though, Nemanja Vidic leading the way like usual, so it’s just a shame the players ahead of them couldn’t do their job. Our midfield really is a concern, especially when even Nani isn’t showing up. Ideally, we’ll have Scholes and Ando in partnership for as much of the remaining season as possible.
Will we be able to win this league by continuing to win at home and continuing not to lose away? As it stands, we’re top of the league with games in hand. On the same points as City with two games in hand, two points clear of Arsenal and seven points clear of Chelsea with one game in hand. What a ridiculous season this is turning out to be.
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