Our forward will be back!
It's not because of Wigan's win against Hull that I now fear that we will never see that eagerly awaited 7th place at the end of the season. I would say that the last two games probably cost us the UEFA-spot.
Loosing four points against relegation candidates can be enough, as we have hard games in front of us. So why weren't we able to convert these two games to wins?
There are no easy games in the PL. West Brom plays ineffective football but better out on the field than most people think. Blackburn would be so much weaker without Samba. He is their engine and caused us problems at both ends of the field (even if Dyer could have had that penalty). And even though we could not play Collison or Behrami, our midfield looked much better against Blackburn than in the weak West Brom game, where both Noble and Parker were totally lost. I would say that the weakening of a midfield that has been crucial for us along the way was an important reason for the loss of points, but not the main factor.The main reason was the loss of Carlton Cole.
It was so - and too - obvious that it is his work-rate and ability to hold the ball up, in combination with his strength to keep the defenders at some distance, that makes the whole team able to move forward, that we missed soooo much. DiMichele was lost, our midfield was lost. Sears and our flanks were lost. I think it's a problem that we build our team so much around Cole. As we could see now. It would probably had been better if Collison had been in the team.
But the "funny" part of all this is that Carlton Cole never should have been given that red card. The referee lost it badly and it cost us.... But you can't only blame a referee, you do have to see that we do not have enough strength up front.
Capello has now released the names for England's next games and Carlton Cole is in the team, as is Upson and Green. Green is a lovely keeper, but will probably never be England’s number one. Upson is a really good defender but will not be able to remove a fit Terry or Ferdinand to the bench. Carlton Cole will never be the big goal-scorer, but he has something else that is very crucial to the game of football today. To many people's surprise - but not mine - it may be Cole who is the one of our boys who will get another chance in the England shirt.
I won't moan to much if we lose out on that UEFA place, cause we have achieved much this season anyway. But Zola is still hoping...
So should we have kept any of those players that we sold or lended in January? No, can't see any of those change our game now. (Well, Bellamy yes, but we had to let him go.) And therefore I'm also very happy to see some youngsters coming through. So even if we all know our team is a bit thin at the moment, it's in the attack that we have been hurt most in these games.
Our next game is against Sunderland the 4th of April and then Cole will be back, as will Upson and Savio and Dyer will be able to take another step towards a full 90 minutes. So we shall win that game and the troops will be more fit for the last 8 games of the season. But I think we should have had at least two more points in these last two games to nail that 7th spot.
Hopefully I'm wrong!