Can you be more relieved than relieved?
Certainly you can and I guess it was more than me who felt that way when the poor referee Michael Jones blew his whistle for full time. 1-0 against Sunderland is massive, so was the players big heart out there today. With a lot of support from the stands. It was not the prettiest victory, but who cares, and we certainly deserved it.
Man of the game was our young hero Mark Noble, who really took the responsibility when Parker was not there. Another hero was of course Ilan who, with his special ability, once again gave us a crucial goal. But I want to say that every player did what they were expected to do today. And that was to fight, fight and fight. Which was enough and even better when we saw Burnley win their first away vicotry this season, against Hull! Lovely day!
35 points may now be enough to play in the top league next season and we have four games to get those four (well, I would not mind more)....
Green 7 - Made a crucial save in the second half from a surprising freekick, when his reaction was fast and spot on. Other than that, not much, so credit to the back four!
Faubert 7 - Another massive effort from our Frenchman. No mistakes, played with calm and decisiveness.
Da Costa 7,5- Another massive effort from our Portuguese. No mistakes, played with calm and decisiveness. Impressed and it looks that he will be important for us next season if Upson leaves.
Matthew Upson 7,5 - This was the best from our Captain in a long time. Gave Bent and Sunderland few opportunities and had a really strong game against one of the teams that scores most at the moment. In the offense he should stop to try to score with weak headers. Idea: Try to find try to find a teammate instead.
Spector 6,5 - Well the first half gave us (once again) some nervous hiccups with his bad ability to get rid of the ball from his area. The second 45 was better as he was less challenged. Then he also had time to go forward which also gave us a couple of really neat dribbles(!). Who had thought that? (My wife says I sound like Seinfeld mentioning the name Newman when I say Spector, but credit to him today)
Stanislas 5,5 - Not as important as against Everton, but made his contribution more in the middle of the park than on the right.
Kovac 5,5 - A pretty silent game. Worked - once more - pretty hard for the team, made some important blocks, but I do want more from the experienced blonde.
Mark Noble 8 - We hardly missed Parker today, and that really says it all. Gave everything, played smart and had wonderful tackles and blocks. We did not even once saw that he is slow today. Thanks Mark!
Valon Behrami 7,5 - One of the most important players for us today as he rallied around all 90 minutes and gave the guests no chance to calm down. He even contributed with some offensive play today, but gave away some stupid freekicks which could have cost us.
Carlton Cole 7 - Impressive display from our big man. Won nearly every header and took care of many long balls. Headed the ball nicely to Ilan for the winner and should certainly have had Gordon sent off when he perfectly saw Gordon drop the ball and he was about to put it in the net when Gordon grabbed Colewith both hands and pushed him over. But "referee" Jones totally misjudged the situation.
Ilan 7,5 - As I've said before, this man knows how to find space in the box! A natural goalscorer which now has "given" us four points in two games. Ran perfectly at Coles header. Well, he still needs to learn the physical aspect of English play, still gives us womething new and special!
Franco - We all like this guy nowadays. He comes on to fight, to play smart with his experience and to irritate the opponents. He does that very well. I would give this guy another year no doubt.
Daprela - Came on in over-time just to check out his boots.
A massive, massive win!!!! Without Parker, without Diamanti.
Happy for us, happy for the players, and happy for Zola who never gave up! Two games ago I really thought we were doomed.... not anymore!