If Poch and Sarri haven’t already seen enough of each other this season then at least this evening’s encounter at Stamford Bridge will have the added spice of both managers being in unique positions (for them) following the dénouement of the games that bookended Sautrday & Sunday.
I cannot remember our man losing it quite so dramatically at the end of a match than he did on Saturday when he laid in to Mike Dean after our defeat at Turf Moor. His rant against Michael Oliver post the Leicester game was based on specific incidents where he believed Son had got the rough end of the sticks being wielded by Mane (in September) & Maguire, but quite what the origin of his tearing in to Dean was I don’t think is quite so clear. We’ll probably never find out until someone breaks the omerta over their ‘conversation’.
As usual he has commented on the mental attitude of our players as being a key factor in losing. I hope too though that he’s had a look at the team set-up and is reflecting on whether pitching a boy still several hundred Weetabix short of being a man against Wood and Barnes was the best idea he’s ever had.
It’s not as if he’s swimming in options mind. Whilst Harry’s return has eased things up front we are still desperately short of numbers in midfield and quality at full-back – as we have been all season. Where we are in the Premier and Moneybags Leagues is a triumph and a wonder and shouldn’t be forgotten during these set-backs.
During both the League Cup semi-finals Chelski got the better of us in midfield and as a result one would expect us to revert to a back four for this game. In the centre Winks and Sissoko (both of who must be knackered) will be joined by two of Lucas, Eriksen and Lamela playing wide whilst Son and Kane will play up front.
Or will they?
After today we have games against the filthy gooners and Dortmund coming up – given that Harry has just returned from injury it’s not impossible that Poch may decide that Kane cannot play them all so he has to choose which ones to start him in. Llorente may get another outing.
The home side have been in the news more for their off the field shenanigans rather than their good effort at keeping Man City out on Sunday. As usual they’re a mess waiting to explode but like the T-1000, they’ll inevitably obscenely and gelatinously reform in to an evil nemesis no matter the efforts of the forces of good.
Winning at Stamford Bridge for us is hardly passé, last year’s Dele inspired victory was the first for a while as everyone’s aware. It’s good that we’re playing them at a bit of an ebb, it’s bad that they generally regain their flow when we come through the door.
It’s going to be a tough night out. We need to start well, and quickly. An early goal, a la Wembley in December, and I’d be confident of a win. Fingers crossed.
Andre Marriner is the man in the middle, Mike Dean isn’t the fourth official.
COYS. Let’s do ‘em.
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