By Atishay Agarwal
Doesn’t it feel like ages since we last played a game like that? And didn’t you get the feeling that the lads played without any pressure and played freely, unlike how they have been recently? I didn’t know how to react when I saw us play the way we did today, be overjoyed, frustrated, angry, or just appreciative. How our season would have flourished had we not started thinking way too much about results and consequently compromise the fluidity of our play. Well, I maybe reacting too much here considering that we played a hapless side who applied man marking for the whole 90 minutes and were devoid of any creativity in their play whatsoever, but who knows. Nevertheless, we got that ‘winning feeling’ back. The ratings, dear friends, lie beneath.
Lehmann – 7 – I was quite happy to see him play, and I think the boss should play him in the remaining games just to give him a nice send-off, as a thank you. Well he might have strained his muscles more by just sitting on the bench today anyway! Had nothing to do throughout the game, but reacted well a couple of times to make the required but expected save near the end.
Clichy – 8 – This is quite unfair you know? Having to come up with a rating and a non-repetitive description for his performance after every game, when he does the same things again and again. Quick, alert and committed as ever, he can be the best left back in the league consistently for the next few years at least.(If he isn’t already) Touchwood.
Gallas – 7 – Like Lehmann, had very little to deal with and was comfortable with whatever the Reading attackers could muster.
Song – 7 – This wasn’t the kind of game one should judge his center back credentials on, but he was calm and composed nevertheless. What was more impressive, though, was the way he got forward and gave some impetus to our attacks. Looks much better than he did last season, and could turn out to be a revelation at center half. (Disclaimer: This doesn’t mean we don’t need to buy an experienced center back in the summer.)
Toure – 7 – Finally turned in a good performance, and crossed brilliantly for the opening goal. I’m not going to comment on the defending again as one saw that they hardly tested our backline, but the way he drove down the wings was most encouraging. Even the Toure at center back used to be an offensive force worth reckoning, and he surely was today.
Hleb – 5 – The only attacker who didn’t do something of note today. Oh wait, he did. He slapped Murty right across his left cheek! Nice shot, but he could get into trouble.
Fabregas – 8 – A typical Cesc-y performance reminiscent of his performances last year. He controlled the pace of our play, and the game in general, and one could see his sharpness and that physical edge in challenges that had gone missing for the last month or so. Almost scored a deserved goal right at the end, but was cleared off the line. MoM for me.
Gilberto – 7 – Our ex-captain put in another admirable effort, and even scored to show for it, even if it was deflected! (Who complains when Mr. Lampard bundles in deflected goals week after week?) It was an efficient performance, and once he gauged the ineffectiveness of their attackers, he got forward more and more.
Walcott – 7 – Theo finally got his long-coveted start, and was good value for it. He troubled their defenders all day, and showed incredible pace and some sublime skills. His first touch ends up being a bit too light at times, which makes him lose control of the ball, but that’s a minor flaw which will be fine-tuned. Hit the bar in the second half, when it was probably easier to score.
Van Persie – (8 -1= 7) – We finally saw the RVP of early season, and all that rust seems to have been well oiled out. Whipped in several stunning crosses, made 2-3 simply outrageous passes, and curled a fantastic free kick which deflected off the bar onto the post, but didn’t go in! I gave him the ‘-1’ because of his Henry-esque complaining each time a pass wasn’t made to him or if it went astray. I hate to see a player complain with his arms raised all the time. A bit harsh maybe, but we don’t need another striker who the players ‘must’ pass to.
Adebayor – 7 – Was more energetic than he has been recently, and ran his legs off throughout the first half. Missed an easy header early on, but took his goal like a real finisher, and coolly slotted home. A very bright performance from our top scorer.