So we’re now 13 games in to the AVB Project.

Thus far the season has been characterised by a large dollop of midfield stodge, a frequently constipated looking attack and a weird ‘better in the first half away, better in the second at home’ dichotomy.

Against these quibbles Villas-Boas has overcome the lack of a Luka-likey, important players getting crocked, new signings taking time to find form, the sniping of a malevolent press and a couple of hissy fits by (agents of) players to get us one great and some good results and fourth place as well as leave us still in the running in the cups. He has brought the best out of Lennon, Defoe, Friedel and Sandro and taken advantage of Benny’s injury to introduce an impressive looking Caulker & shift Vertonghen’s dynamism to left back. The only away defeat was an undeserved one, the only home one inflicted by the ruble. Six wins, five draws and two defeats is much better than many (including me) predicted in August.

That’s doesn’t meant that AVB will have time to kick back, pour a glass of his favourite vintage & start catching up with Homeland however as he’s got a team to pick. It’s Norwich away in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday night. Get it wrong and the Halloween Horror headlines write themselves, get it right and the semi-finals are just one kind home draw away.

Predicting the side is a bit of a hopeless task. It’s stating the obvious to say that the manager will want to pick an eleven good enough to win but also to rest players as well. Gallas and Friedel are the two obvious ones to sit out, Vertonghen, Defoe, Sandro, Lennon and Walker have all played regularly in the past few weeks, for country as well as club and would all appreciate a rest, whether they’ll get one, given the lack of obvious replacements is another matter. My guess is that we’ll field a side veering towards the stronger side of under strength, with maybe Dempsey and Bale leading the line thus giving Defoe a night off. Elsewhere, it’s anyone’s guess.

The good news is that Norwich probably won’t pick their best side either. They gave us a fright at WHL when they had the better chances and a fortnight ago beat the Gooners so the more players they keep for the weekend’s encounter with Crouchy and his lumberjack mates the better.

Jon Moss – not the one from Culture Club – is the referee. COYS.

By MF