I thought we were poor first half; better in the 2nd. We lasted the game better than Villa and gradually got on top towards the end. Indeed, we battered them for the final 15 mins or so.
However, for a long time it looked as though we could play for ever without putting the ball in the net – especially when Remy hit the post when he really should have scored near the end of normal time. His injury-time winner was very well taken and unleashed a tidal wave of relief around SJP.
We defended pretty well with Willo and Colo outstanding and largely keeping the dangerous Benteke quiet. One brilliant block tackle by Willo to stop Benteke getting a clear run on goal almost lifted the roof and got the crowd right into the game. I can't actually recall Krul making a single save.
Paul Dummet made a few mistakes on the ball but used it pretty well going forward. He took several excellent swinging corners and almost scored with a fierce drive from distance that just dipped over the bar.
Remy showed what a top class act he is, and sadly showed us what we will miss when he inevitably moves on to a club with real ambition. As well as possessing skill, pace and nous the guy works his socks off for the team.
Cisse worked hard and showed some nice touches but I felt desperately sorry for him when he blazed over the bar from 8yds when presented a clear opening by Remy late in the 1st half – producing an amazing gasp from around the stadium. I have a feeling the ball bobbled as he struck it, but will have to check the video on that score.
Once again our problems lay in midfield. Sissoko was the usual mix of the good, the bad and the ugly. Gouffran took a heavy knock to either his thigh or knee in the 1st half and thereafter rather drifted out of the game. Anita is a very genuine player, if short of top class.
He made a series of errors and misplaced passes, and of course lacks physical strength in the heat of the central midfield battleground. However, I thought he was instrumental today in keeping the team going when things where refusing to go right for us. He put in a terrific shift and was driving us forward towards the end of the game when Tiote was running on empty.
AP persisted with 4-4-2, producing the inevitable problems in midfield. At HT he switched Remy up front on his own with Cisse largely working down the right and giving Sissoko more of a free role. It worked much better than 4-4-2 had earlier – surprise surprise.
A tough game and a stuttering performance. However, there was no lack of commitment today and it was that and the reappearance of three key players that made a difference. Hopefully, this will have restored a measure of confidence and let's hope we can now keep it going and work to close the gap on ManU and Everton.