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West Ham 0 City 0

No real surprise that this game ended up a draw, although I did expect goals from it.

Perhaps not as many changes rung by Sven than I thought, but Castillo still came in for his debut, replacing the flue victime Elano, although perhaps an interesting footnote was the inclusion of Schmeichel on the substitutes bench ahead of Isaksson.

It seemed evident from listening to the commentary that it was a closely matched affair, without an abundance of chances being created - penalty claims apart, and like many other teams this weekend in the FA Cup it was possibly a game too far following the hectic and condensed fixture list over the Christmas and New Year period.

Sven was happy enough with the performance though:

"I enjoyed it a lot, we started very well and
controlled it early on. I know it’s a long way to the final but we took a half
step today and hopefully we can take the other half at home.
"We could have
scored in the first half when we had the energy, but 0-0 is OK. It’s another
clean sheet and a very good performance by us, so I’m happy and hopefully we can
win when we replay at home.
"There have been a lot of games within a few
days, and at the end we were tired, but that’s to be expected with all these
games. But I’m optimistic we’ll go through.
"There were a lot of
half-chances, but we could not take them. Having said that we performed well and
I’m happy."


And in particular praising debutant Nery Castillo:

"He is a new player, coming to a new country, a new club
with a new style of football and he can't speak very much English - when you
think about all that he was brilliant."He started the game absolutely fantastic.
He has quick feet, good technique, very seldom gives the ball away and has a lot
of pace."He will be an important player for us in the future. He was very, very
good."
Opposition manager Alan Curbishley, like Sven was also satisfied with a draw from this game:
"I am delighted what our players have done defensively but
we just need a bit more going the other way", said Curbishley.
"I can't ask
any more from the players. Everyone connected with the club realises the
situation we are in and we will just keep going."
"The replay may now give
us an opportunity for one or two of our players on their way back from injury to
get a game.
We move on back to the City of Manchester Stadium for a replay on Wednesday January 16th then, the scene of our quarter final defeat of two seasons ago, and the game will come just a few days before our encounter in the league at the same venue.

Petrov again seemed the focal point of our attacks, with his form of late meaning he is our most dangerous outlet - moreso than Elano perhaps, with Lucas Neill the latest full back to testify that. It is slightly concerning that we could not manage a goal to seal the victory, and now we are in January, speculation continues to grow around which forward will be imminently arriving (candidates are now in double figures for this weekend alone from those I have read linked).

A striker with more of a physical presence is probably what is required, given we seem to lack a little up front - and wasting a little of what the midfield are providing and creating.

By the time the replay comes around (or even earlier) we may have an answer to this though.

Match reports:

The Independent
MEN
The Observer
Knees Up Mother Brown