Unless you’re a cat lover this was not one for the neutral but this game for us, like the majority of the remaining 14 games I suspect, was more about the point rather than the entertainment value.
We were enfeebled and feeble in attack, alternately classy and disciplined in midfield and heroic and stoic at the back. All of the defence were excellent with Dawson and Walker particularly so and Friedel not far behind them. Parker’s contribution though was what probably earned us the draw, his ability to pop up all over the place with a challenge, interception or block meant that we kept the home team mostly at arms length and our inability to threaten in return wasn’t ultimately decisive.
The game looked winnable going into Monday morning but the withdrawal of Van der Vaart, Kaboul and Sandro when added to those already missing meant that a draw was a good result. In fact we nearly did win it when Kranjcar put Bale clear. The keeper was out quickly and a composed chip over his head would’ve seen us take the lead, instead Bale added to a fairly miserable evening for him by hitting his shot straight at the keeper’s legs and the clearest opening of the game was gone.
Spearing, Adam and Skrtel gave the Welshman a hard time during the game, particularly the latter who was lucky the ref didn’t take a more severe view of his studs up challenge, there’s no excuse for the full length dive he got a booking for though after being harried by Agger. Perhaps he was whetting the home crowd’s appetite for their returning hero Suarez who reminded them what they’d been missing in his brief cameo by having a couple of goes at conning Michael Oliver, planting a free header straight into Friedel’s arms and risking another lengthy ban with his freestyle boot at Parker’s midriff.
Parker’s comments at the end of the game with regards to the missing Redknapp leave one in no doubt as to the importance of the manager to the team. “Harry gives that extra bit of energy” was part of it. Wherever he watched the game he’ll have been delighted by the performance in general but disappointed I suspect by our narrowness and the missing zip and pace going forward that has characterised our best attacking displays this season. This’ll only return once we get players (Lennon, Defoe and VdV) back. Until then, a clean sheet and a point that keeps us eight points clear of the team in fifth – Newcastle, who we play at the weekend – will do nicely.
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