Good goal? Not Arf.
Well that Bank Holiday weekend was a joy to behold was it not? Two games, two wins, four goals, none conceded - and Hatem Ben Arfa. And Papiss Demba Cisse too for that matter. Also, five games and five wins, a feat we haven't achieved for six years. Who'd have thunk it?
Anyhoo, starting with the Swansea game, I felt that Pardew got it absolutely spot on tactically. He said in the week he would let them play their game and we would counter it. For all Swansea had around 75% possession and made around 920 passes, only 200 of those were in the final third. For the most part it was Joe Allen and Leon Britton making two yard passes between each other in the centre circle. They never really tested Krul - Sigurdsson's effort was comfortable enough and there was a deflected shot that our stopper saved with his knees. The game was settled with two moments of brilliance - starting with an excellent pass from the Dreamboat himself and finished off brilliantly by our new hero. I still can't work out exactly how Cisse scored his second mind - he appeared to chip it into the top corner with his ankle whilst falling over. It hung in the air for around 11 minutes before dipping into the top corner. An absolutely staggering goal, and crucial in settling the nerves. I like Swansea and what Brendan Rogers has done, it's a breath of fresh air compared to the likes of that team called Stoke. At the same time however, you can pass the ball until you are blue in the face - its goals that ultimately count, and this was their downfall in our season in the Championship with them. Pleased to see them stay up though.
Monday's game at Bolton appeared to be drifting off into a dull 0-0. Bolton arrived to nullify, and nullify they did with five men in midfield - and sometimes six. They were proving to be very, very difficult to break down and we were probably fortunate not to be a goal down. The game changed with a moment of absolute genius. By now, you will have heard every superlative out there to describe the goal. It was just brilliant. The first turn in his own half made me squeal like a schoolgirl, and has he ghosted past a defender and then another...and then another we all thought he'd taken too heavy a touch. Uh uh. It was a sublime touch and Bogdan had no idea what to do. The ground went berserk, as did many a watering hole across Tyneside I'd imagine. This is why we have this boy on our books. He can turn a dull 0-0 stalemate into a game many of us unlikely to forget in a hurry. Defenders simply don't know what to do with him as his pace and technique allows him to skin players with ease and leave them in knots. He's a genius.
I'd almost forgotten about Papiss! He's got 10 goals in 9 games now; the boy can not stop scoring. Offside and onside...ahem. He brings more than goals though, his pace and movement creates things and defenders don't know what he's going to do next. He was a shrewd piece of business in January and has really allowed us to push on rather than simply be happy with a top ten finish. His goals have been absolutely crucial as we find ourselves in joint fourth place and two points ahead of Chelsea going into - and I hate this phrase - two very winnable games. I can't get my head around the fact that we are Champions League contenders with only five games to go. For the record, I don't think we will make it as we'll probably need four wins from those five games and hope that Spurs trip up again. However, the fact we can even talk about it seriously is testament to the foundations that Ashley has built and the work put in by Pardew, Carver, Stone, Carr and every single player who has pulled on a shirt this season. It's the stuff of dreams. The downside of this is that after the season we've had, the pressure will be on next season (mainly from our own supporters) and we all know what a fickle bunch we can be. For every great atmosphere against Liverpool follows a chorus of boos after drawing with Wolves. Which I hate. We've just got to keep getting behind them and hope that this is the start of something special for us. God knows we need it after recent times.
Hat'll do nicely - come on Liverpool! (Feel dirty saying that).