If you thought we were unlucky to draw vs Burnley (which we were) then we we’ve just about evened it up today, with Palace probably going away from that one wondering how they’ve only got a point.
There was only one winner in that one in the end, although we dug in and put in some great last ditch blocks to preserve our point – one that may just turn out to be a precious one when it comes to the final standings in May.
That being said, 3 vs Burnley & 0 points today would’ve had us better off, proving once again that wins really are gold dust in this relegation battle – especially when the likes of Brighton and Southampton earned big wins yesterday.
We started really positively and Mo Diame’s goal gave us the perfect start. He deserved it and was good once again today, with us not looking nearly as strong in midfield when he came off.
Darlow’s performance was also a funny one. We had him to thank when we went in at the break 1-0 up, however he was far from convincing in the second half, struggling with the majority of clearances and looking incredibly hesitant from a few crosses. One minute he’s the MOTM (Stoke away), next minute he’s costing us (Everton home). It’s hard to be overly critical of him today, but I really struggle to trust him. If I was a defender for NUFC I doubt he’d exude confidence and I’m also quite certain he doesn’t communicate too well either.
Dummett and Kenedy were plus points. The latter faded and was taken off early in the second but showed his qualities in the first. His pace/power, skill and added quality on the ball looks like giving us something different down the left, with Dummett’s reliability at left-back probably allowing him (Kenedy) that bit more freedom to roam forward.
Perez and Gayle didn’t do nearly enough, making the importance of Slimani’s pending introduction all the more important. It was a thankless task at times, but they were invisible in the second half just when we needed them. Yes they were feeding on scraps and could sometimes do little with long balls up against two centre-backs a foot taller than them, but they didn’t offer enough. Gayle looks woefully short on confidence, whilst Perez lacked conviction – both physically and technically, with several of his attempted passes or flicks seeming weak and wasteful.
Most would see it as 2 points dropped in a game where we took the lead, but in the circumstances, I’d prefer to see this as 1 point closer to safety in a game we could have very easily lost.
It’s not the win we craved, but that point could end up being precious one in the final reckoning. Obviously we need to start turning draws into wins, but I have faith that Slimani (and Kenedy) will help us achieve that.
Man Utd next. Can we pull off an upset? Who knows, but I get the feeling it may take a big result against one of the top sides to keep us safe this season.