Tim Howard: 6/7
Howard saved well the few times when called upon although the American’s kicking was uncharacteristically off yesterday.
Seamus Coleman: 6/7
Wasn’t called upon too much defensively and when he was, he was as solid as ever. Whether it is the case that the fullback doesn’t trust Deulofeu to cover for him or not, but Coleman doesn’t look the same going forward since his injury, often he put his foot on the ball and slowed things down rather than attacking the by-line and crossing or coming inside and getting a shot off. To be fair to the Irishman, if he gets a 90th minute winner and still doesn’t look as comfortable going forward – it just shows how well he was playing attacking wise during his purple scoring patch.
John Stones: 7
Looked comfortable and assured both with the ball and without, destined for future success both for club and country with performances like yesterday’s.
Sylvain Distin: 7
A performance we’ve come to expect from Sylvain, solid as ever, nothing getting past him either with pace or strength.
Leighton Baines: 7
Wasn’t really tested defensively which was a surprise coming up against Craig Noone but that may be testament to the England fullback rather than discrediting the Cardiff City wide-man. Going forward he was a key cog in creating attacking play as he and his fullback partner, Coleman always are, and gave a solid performance in that regard.
James McCarthy: 9
Outstanding; a word we will be describing this player with for years to come. Both the ball and winning it back you could not find fault with the midfielder; in fact in both instances he was excellent.
Gareth Barry: 8
Outshone by his midfield partner but still an excellent performance nonetheless from the anchor-man. Barry kept the influential Kim Bo-Kyung quiet throughout most of the game and won the ball back countless times as well as keeping possession ticking over with simple passes.
Gerard Deulofeu: 7
A decent performance from the young Spaniard, with a few flashes of brilliance; typified by his goal – once he irons out the few frustrating parts to his performances (mostly decision making, which will come with experience) he will be a world superstar.
Kevin Mirallas: 6
Really quiet from the Belgian, particularly in the second half; in fact I’m struggling to remember many instances in the second half with the ball and Mirallas together. The first half he had a few shots off target and blocked shots from cutting inside. It’s interesting how quiet he was even though playing in a more central role perhaps we will see the best out of Mirallas coming in from the left.
Leon Osman: 6/7
A good and honest performance from the vice-captain although he did tire in the second half and his substitution could have come twenty minutes earlier. I wouldn’t describe yesterday as a glamour performance from Ossie but in the same breath he didn’t do much wrong; a reflection of the team’s performance in a sense.
Romelu Lukaku: 6
Like his Belgian counterpart in Mirallas, yesterday was quite quiet for Lukaku. I can remember one highlight in the first half – him cutting in onto his left foot and striking with the excellent David Marshall saving over the bar, but other than that I can’t recall too much influence from the striker. Having said that I wouldn’t say he played badly, just we didn’t see enough of him. A game that was won on the wings it can be understandable that he and Mirallas didn’t see much of the ball.
Steven Naismith (Kevin Mirallas 62’): 6/7
A decent performance coming off the bench from the Scot; he certainly made an impact and as a substitute there’s nothing more you can ask. Kept the ball well in attacking moves and made good runs off the ball; he was always an option for the player on the ball.
Aiden McGeady (Gerard Deulofeu 62’): 8
Ultimately the difference between the two sides. We are now starting to see the real McGeady now he seems closer to full fitness and perhaps those that sit around me at the game would care to realise that; when they were judging him in his first few games, not to name names. I’ve never seen a player with such quick feet and the winger is completely two footed, which helps. Yesterday, he beat his man almost every single time and put in some excellent deliveries which built more and more pressure on the Cardiff defence and then midfield as they began to sink deeper; a shoe-in to start the next match.
Ross Barkley (Leon Osman 82’): 6/7
Although the youngster didn’t have much time to make a significant impact I would still say he contributed to the bigger picture in terms of attacking play, even without having a shot or an assist.
Man of the match: James McCarthy
I was close to giving Aiden McGeady man of the match for his contribution off the bench, but James McCarthy just pipped him to the post with his performance. It’s hard to describe how integral his influence was yesterday but the simple point is due to his athleticism, attitude and just pure quality he and Gareth Barry were able to scupper and break down near enough every Cardiff move and then build the initial stages to our attacking play (as they have done throughout the season); and that is the simple version!