“sé þig seinna”
Thanks Sky (for once).
This was a game that fell under the heading “Attritional”. It also made an appearance under “Awful”, and “Glad I drove up from the Midlands to watch that rubbish”, and fleetingly got a mention under “Wow”. The very few wow moments, such as they were, tended to be delivered by our Icelandic hero (who’s doubting him now?), or our favourite Portuguese hunk.
Sigurdsson’s immaculate turn to send Gunnarsson off to the M56 whilst everyone else went on the M6, was a moment of pure joy, and there were audible gasps of appreciation from the 39000+ in the Old Lady, yes, even the Cardiff fans. It was sublime, echoing the turn he did on James Maddison at Leicester a few weeks back, and they still haven’t found him. Sigurdsson wasn’t finished either, repeating the feat on the same hapless opponent only moments later. And of course, he was Johnny On The Spot when Walcott’s scuffed effort was saved by the Philippines No 1, Neil Etheridge, a fact that surprised me at least. The Philippines bit, not that Sigurdsson was on hand to tap the loose ball in to the unguarded net.
You can see just what the goal meant to Sigurdsson.
In a drab game punctuated by poor, slow passing by the home team, it was hard to find high spots; but as well as Sigurdsson lightening up the gathering gloom, it was André Gomes who once again showed what a truly outstanding footballer he is. He was everywhere, left, right, middle, prompting forward, taking on and beating Cardiff’s Easter Island statues, giving as complete a midfield performance as I’ve seen in a while. It can only be a matter of time before he nets a goal and next Sunday would do nicely please thank you. Or two would be even better. Gomes does what top players always do, that anticipation that gives them the extra first yard, that “how did he know it was going there” moment. And whilst you often see that amongst older, more experienced players, it is rare to see that quality in someone who, unbelievably, is still only 25. He’s barely played 120 senior games in his career. Whether we’ll be able to keep this talismanic talent, I somehow doubt it; the better he plays, the more likely it is that either Barcelona will want to keep him and play him, or a Champions League team will arrive at the Camp Nou with a suitcase full of Euros. Let’s leave such machinations to Brands and enjoy his talent whilst we’ve got it.
But for Pickford’s involuntary demonstration of a whirling helicopter blade when Harris pointlessly upended him, there was little else to set the pulses racing. I hate the phrase, used far too often, that a side was “well organised”, but on this occasion I’d have to admit that Cardiff City were exactly that. They came with a plan, to steal a point, and I suppose we should take it as a compliment that they didn’t think they had a chance of getting anything from the fixture if they didn’t simply park the bus. It was a gnarly uncomfortable game, and not without a late scare or two for the Blues. But winning games like that is another step in the road to longer term improvement, a game we might have reasonably expected to be pegged back for a draw, so to win is a bonus.
Now another tough away game. Can we reasonably expect anything from it? Well, yes. For once, Liverpool will be wary of our attacking threat, and won’t expect just to turn up to win. At last, not saying it will happen, but my confidence level in a decent result and performance is higher than it might have been after our indifferent start.
“við skulum komast til þeirra” as they say in Reykjavik