Another point gained as we crawl tortoise-like towards 40 point. In truth, this is how it was last time under David Moyes - tight, patient, tactical and conservative. Everton looked there for the taking but Moyes had few options with a desperately depleted squad where the starting XI essentially self selected. Right from the start you could see that we were going to have to play it tight with a starting XI that had no real pace, lacked height across the team for set pieces, and relied upon Noble and Rice putting in a busy and physically demanding shift with no real support available from the bench if either tired or got injured.
|VWH's Youth Reporting Team Enjoy the build up to Yesterday|
Despite these major impediments, we looked determined and passed the ball really well, building attacks slowly - mostly because we had no pace to do otherwise! A point will therefore suffice but with some very tough fixtures ahead, it's hard to see us not slipping into the relegation zone again over the coming 4-6 weeks. At least with Moyes we won't panic!
Yesterday also highlighted how thin our squad is right now. We need reinforcements. Imagine if any of Haller, Rice or Noble got injured??? Zabaleta was superb yesterday, as was Noble but they cannot be relied upon to keep that up week in and week out. You really have to wonder why Diangana has not been recalled from West Brom - he would have been a real addition to our bench yesterday as we lacked a game changer to bring on and at 70 minutes the game was there to be taken if either side had a decent impact player to introduce. Neither did!
Here are our player ratings in what was a solid overall performance.
Randolph: Great to have him back! Quiet day but handled everything well and decent distribution with kick outs.No chance with the goal. 7/10.
Zabaleta: Tremendously mature performance. Gave not an inch at the back and was decent going forward. Neither he nor Snoddy rely on pace to get down the wing and seem to work well for each other as a result! 7.5/10.
Cresswell: Decent performance all round. Linked well with both Fornals and then Masuaku. Set pieces not so good. 7/10.
Diop: Very reassuring to have him back to his best. Solid and confident in defence and chipped in with a brilliantly headed goal. 8.5/10
Ogbonna: Solid, Solid, Solid. It's really hard to decide who he prefers alongside him - Diop or Balbuena but he looked comfortable with Issa yesterday. First CB on the team list fully justified again. 8/10.
Noble: Worked unbelievably hard to keep us on top of the visitors. Everywhere for 60 minutes but then faltered a bit. We desperately need reinforcements. In a side with no pace he managed our passing game plan to perfection. 8.5/10.
Rice: A big presence in midfield and a major part of why we look more solid defensively. Possibly prefers the Moyes method to Pellegrini's more open game? 7.5/10.
Snodgrass: In the thick of everything good that we did offensively. Nice free kick for Diop's goal. Linked well with Zabba and Noble to control the right flank. 8/10.
Fornals: Has settled into the Premiership and looks comfortable in the team. Strange early sobbing as he looked much more likely than the rather flat Lanzini. 7/10.
Lanzini: In and out but still not back to his old self. The only player with real pace on our side yesterday but was caught alone when we tried to break. Also, does he like playing with Haller? There is very little evidence that they are linking well to date? 6/10.
Haller: Hmmm. Lacks pace and his languid style creates an air of disinterest. Has physical presence and at last we are starting to get some crosses in to him. Very average performance for a £50M striker. 6/10.
Masuaku: Lovely on the eye with his twinkle-toed style. Playing further forward suits him but Arthur lacks the killer touch and is no real substitute for Felipe Anderson. 7/10.
Ajeti: The best that we've seen from him so far - maybe there's hope that he can be more than just emergency cover for Fornals. Bristled for the few minutes that he was on. 6/10.
MOTM: Issa Diop.