Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Gift aid

How nice to discover an opposition defence even more charitable than our own. Thanks for Saturday’s victory over Everton must go to Messrs Unsworth and Yobo as much to Shearer, Dyer, Bellamy et al – though even then the win was hardly straightforward.

It took just five minutes for Bellamy to unsettle Unsworth into gifting us the lead, but the impressive Gravesen soon pegged us back. Dyer capped an energetic display on his return from injury with a headed goal, his first league strike since 22nd February 2003, but later blotted his copybook by standing motionless on the post and allowing Yobo to steal in and reduce the arrears to 3-1. Shearer yet again proved the matchwinner, seizing on two opportunities either side of Yobo’s header to ensure the points remained on Tyneside. His second came in the final minute, though, and it has to be said that had old boy Steve Watson’s perfectly good header stood rather than being disallowed for offside with the score at 2-1, the afternoon would have been even more uncomfortable.

Of the chasing pack, Charlton didn’t play this weekend and both Villa and Birmingham could only manage draws. Liverpool, however, thrashed a hapless Blackburn side to stay one point ahead of us in fourth, and improve their goal difference. What we need to hope for is that, following tonight’s Champions’ League exit at the hands of Chelsea, Arsenal can take out their frustrations on Liverpool on Friday but then arrive at St James’s Park on Sunday suffering from their recent exertions so we have at least a chance to turn them over. It’s only a hope, mind…

Before that test, though, we have to go to PSV Eindhoven in the UEFA Cup quarter-final, hoping to snatch a result or at least limit the damage inflicted by the likes of Kezman, Robben and Rommedahl. It’s going to be a very tough week.

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