Saturday was a game where both sides could have won, but it would have been harsh on the losing side had either team scored. On the whole an uninspiring game with not too many incidents, although the woodwork again came to our rescue against Sunderland and Dempsey could/should have secured three points late on with a bad miss. Even still, another clean sheet with a makeshift defense missing four full backs through injury, a good defensive performance on the whole.
Schwarzer – 7, wasn’t really troubled too much, and was shaky a couple of times on crosses, requiring defenders to cover. However, he preserved the clean sheet, and by extension the point, with a wonderful wonderful save with his feet at the end. Having gone to ground, the deflection left him almost useless but he reacted quickly to get a leg to the ball before it went in the net. Good stuff.
Hangeland – 6.5, kept Bendter and co quiet, making a couple of good blocks along the way.
Senderos – 6, like Hangeland a good performance, although he never looks quite as assured does he. Even still, he didn’t let himself down on his return to the side.
Baird – 6.5, struggled at the beginning against Elmohamady but soon worked him out and not very much came down that side for the rest of the game. His versatility is such a boon for the squad. Didn’t really probe offensively though.
Hughes – 5.5, did ok down the right hand side except when up against Sessegnon who did him numerous times very easily, almost all Sunderland’s most threatening moments came from Sessegnon beating Hughes. Hughes’ distribution is also really quite poor, which you can get away with at centre half (and he’s just good enough for a passing team like us, and his long balls over the full back for Zamora are pretty good, under Roy alot of attacks started from that) but at fullback when you a) see more of the ball b) are under more pressure when you have it you need to be better.
Murphy – 6, never really got hold of the ball and created anything or inspired our offensive game, although he did ok defensively and covering.
Etuhu – 7.5, a really, really good performance and a needed one too, having come under pressure from fans in recent weeks. He took his opportunity, after Sidwell had a hernia operation, really as well as he could. Made tackles, kept possession moving very well (arguably moved the ball around better than Murphy did, at any rate by the end of the game he had 92% passing rate) and was unfortunate to see a header cleared off the line just before half time. Probably the difference between keeping Sunderland comfortably away despite their possesion and being overrun.
Duff – 6, a hard working, but ultimately ineffective performance and I’m not sure why he played if Jol at the end admitted that he ‘couldn’t run for the last 10 minutes’. Suprised not to see him subbed earlier.
Dempsey – 6, hmm, missed a sitter, but I thought he had an ok game overall. Nothing too spectacular although he helped cover Baird quite well. I don’t think he had any other choice but to shoot; the pass infront of Dembele was blocked off by a Sunderland player and the pass to Dembele would have been cut off by a runner making up ground. Even still, poor miss.
Dembele – 6.5, worked really hard off the ball, he wins the ball back really really well, using his strength, balance and quick feet to close and nick the ball from opposing players, and if there was one player who looked like he could create something it was him; in he first half he drifted past a couple of players but placed his shot at the keeper and in the second set Dempsey free one on one. He had very little space to work with really.
Zamora – 5.5, the touch wasn’t really there but I think that was explained with the sub, replaced by Andy Johnson holding his hip. Would have probably taken him off a few minutes earlier though, or at half time.
Johnson – 6, provided a better out ball than Zamora did, but other than that didn’t do too much
Ruiz – N/A, came on for a token few minutes, just because Duff was tired, but surely he must be close to starting. Would love to see him start against Arsenal, I reckon he could exploit the space very well.
Briggs – N/A, too injured to start but came on in injury time to shore up our defence.