Watching a game on a pub’s big screen I typically squint to make out the match clock in the top left-hand corner, a sure sign that my eyes are failing me. My hindsight however, remains 20-20, thus allowing me to tut and cluck all weekend about the wisdom – or lack thereof – of shuffling the winning pack in order to accommodate the returning Sergeant Wilson. Shamelessly glossing over the fact that AANP could not decide beforehand whether the restoration of Palacios would have been a good or bad idea, it is fairly easy to conclude that neither that change nor the shunting of Assou-Ekotto to right-back was a roaring success.BAE – An Odd Fish
I don’t think anyone is quite sure what goes on in BAE’s head, but I get the impression that the little voices generally tell him to do some pretty sinister stuff. As such, I’m vaguely relieved that on Saturday he only went as far as the crude hack that resulted in a penalty, for that glazed expression suggests he might one day try something a darned sight scarier…
It was not his most auspicious day. He offered precious little attacking support for Bentley; and could hardly be described as “watertight” when carrying out his defensive duties. His doings at right-back are not helped by the fact has he has appears never to have been introduced to his own right foot, but whichever his preferred pedal, there was no excusing the recklessness of his penalty area foul.
After the limited success of Walker, Kaboul and now BAE as ad hoc right-backs, the worrying thought occurs to me that ‘Arry might even try Jenas in that position next. Someone slap some deep heat onto Corluka’s injury, and pronto.
Sergeant Wilson’s Off-Day
However, it is only right to note that maintaining the status quo – of a Hudd-Modders central midfield and Kaboul at right-back – would by no means have guaranteed a better result at Old Trafford. The result indicates that ‘Arry’s gamble failed, but it was an understandable move.
Palacios’ performance may have elicited a few embarrassed coughs, but elsewhere there was better news as familiar faces returned to the fray…
Ledley’s Golden Minute
Our wondrous captain was awesome again, producing one particularly golden minute, midway through the second half. It ended with his headed goal, but began with, of all things, a casual drop of the shoulder on his own six-yard box, to completely wrong-foot Berbatov and shepherd the ball back to safety. I worship the ground upon which Ledley walks, the nightclubs out of which he stumbles and the vacuum in his knee that is bereft of cartilage.
Lennon and Bale – The Time is Nigh
I cannot quite bring myself to worship Aaron Lennon’s shaved eyebrow with similar fervour, but it was jolly good to see it and its owner once again. Lennon did not really have a chance to rev up and disappear past John O’ Shea in a puff of smoke, but his arrival and the subsequent reorganisation in midfield seemed to give the team a better attacking shape. His chums in lilywhite poked and probed for a chance to set him racing away towards the byline; United duly trotted men over to snuff out the threat; so we switched play to the left, for Gareth Bale to have a gallop. Nothing came of it on this occasion, but it was a glimpse of The Land of Milk and Honey. Keep those two fit, and all hell could break loose down the flanks.
Elsewhere On The Pitch
Whatever the misgivings about the team selection and outcome, this is hardly the time for an over-reaction. Defeat away to Man Utd is far from disastrous, and in fact having somehow got to half-time on level terms, and then dragged it back to one-all with 10 minutes to go, we may well have gone on to pinch all three points.
Six points from l’Arse, Chelski and Man Utd remains a jolly impressive haul, and those two wins may yet prove to be season-defining. The showers at AANP Towers have been working overtime to wash off the general uncleanliness that came with cheering on l’Arse for 90 minutes yesterday, and while my back was turned Villa and Liverpool managed to pop up into view again, but the net result of this weekend is that fourth place is still in our hands. According to the AANP abacus, avoiding defeat to City and winning the other two would do the trick.