Good game from us last night, we played well and Dnipro very rarely threatened our goal, I expected more from them really. Perhaps we took the proverbial foot off the gas for the last 10 or 20 minutes but we could have scored one or two more. Should see us through to the group stages, even with a weakened side in Ukraine where hopefully Briggs and Kasami will get another chance to shine. Anyway, on to the player by player ratings of the game…
Schwarzer – 6, like against Villa wasn’t particuarly tested although they did start peppering his goal with shots towards the end, all of them he dealt with when needed to and punched/caught the crosses he could.
Hughes – 8, another goal! Have we found a new partner for Bobby? 7 based on his defensive performance, he dealt with some tricky customers well and another for the finish which was pretty cute.
Hangeland – 7, good game from him and the Hangeland and Hughes partnership looks solid as ever. It’s tricky for Jol who has another class centre back at his disposal but it’s difficult to justify breaking apart the two.
Kelly – 7, after a shaky start got up and down the flank well, including supplying Sidwell for the cross for Dempsey’s first and a lovely loely ball into the box for Zamora’s golden chance, and defensively did well too, making one crunching tackle in the second half. I think he was preferred to Baird because he gets about the pitch better, that’s just by definition of being a faster player and a more natural right back I think, but I’m not sure, it was a strange game to give Kelly his first start of the season, including the two Fulham XI games if he thought that Kelly was better than Baird. In fact I don’t think Kelly saw any game time at all before yesterday although I could be wrong.
Briggs – 8, he looks like some player. I think now his attacking qualities are for all to see. The way he breezed past the two Dnipro players for his assist was superb, the first touch to get the ball out of his feet and into a great position for a cross and the pace to leave the two for dead before putting in a ball that was begging to be finished off, as it was. I also think that it showed that he very much is a left back, with those runs from deep not being picked up often and using his pace and strength, rather than typical winger dribbling, to beat players (which he did numerous times). Of course he’s not perfect yet, his defending is still suspect at times and a few easy passes went awry but remember that he is 19 so in context it is nothing unexpected. I think that he will turn into a fine attacking left back, one of Riise’s stature, as long as he keeps progressing and getting opportunities. Credit to Jol for providing him with them.
Murphy – 7, when team give him space he can be lethal and he showed just that with a couple of brilliant passes like for Briggs’ early chance. Marshalled the team alot too, encouraging Briggs and Kelly to get forward often. Well earned rest when subbed for Etuhu.
Sidwell – 7.5, showed why many fans are calling for him to start over Etuhu. He got about the pitch well, passed well and it was a very good assist for Dempsey. I also think it demonstrated that we don’t need Etuhu necessarily to contain teams; for all Dnipros possession, they had little penetration. We seem a smoother attacking outfit with him and I suppose that’s obvious, but overall the team seems to benefit more with Sidwell than Etuhu. That’s not slagging Etuhu off, afterall he’s played a large part in our most successful 3 seasons in our history, but as the style turns more expansive as it had done from Roy to Hughes and now to Jol, we need a more mobile and technically adept central two which Sidwell offers, especially when the deeper of the two midfielders is a quarterback like Murphy, rather than an out and out defensive midfielder.
Kasami – 7, slow start but really came into his own in the second half with some nice touches and another wonderful ball in for our third. Again like Briggs it is easy to forget that he is only 19 and still has alot to learn but looks a real talent. Quick, agile and strong and good on the ball, all the ingredients for a Clint-slash-Malbranque type midfielder I think.
Duff – 6.5, busy as always but not a lot of end product to show for it.
Dempsey – 8, quiet game overall but scored two goals. Will take that every game.
Zamora – 6.5, caused problems for the defence all night long, his touch and hold up play seems back to how good it was last season although missed a very good chance. In defence of him it bounced awkwardly infront of him but I think we should expect a player of his quality to put them away
Dembele – 5.5, came on and I was hoping he’d lift us after we seemed to ease off the pace but was very quiet, I guess that’s down to lack of fitness and pre-season and it’d explain why Jol is easing him in so slowly into first team football.
Etuhu – 6, played a couple of very nice floated passes as if to prove a point, and to be fair he’s shown that he can do that quite well actually, they’re fairly accurate. Be nice if he can sort out the simple ones though!
Johnson – N/A, two minutes on the pitch.