Having sacked off the Moneybags League (yawn) our collection of crocked, demoralised and out of form heroes have the unenviable task this weekend of attempting to wrestle points from a side currently playing as though the phrase ‘bang in form’ was invented for them.
Scoring against Chelsea of late has been as rare as an on target Eriksen free-kick. Combine this with our lack of fire power and our initial approach to the occasion must surely be from the Santini Handbook of Traffic Management.
So who will be this year’s Naybet, Atouba and Edman? This season’s bus drivers?
The ‘obvious’ solution, given the success of the system against Woolwich, is to attempt three at the back once more, a similar tactic to that which the Conte in charge of the home team has successfully implemented. Vertonghen, Wimmer and Dier maybe? But then who will play the wing back roles? Walker on the right obviously but on the left? Not Lamela – him also injured. Trippier? Where’s Townsend when you need him?
Alternative proposals might be to play one of Wimmer or Vertonghen at full back and go for some old school ‘banks of four’ in front of the defence.
Whatever Poch resorts to, it’ll be experimental and untried – just when you don’t ned it.
Son and Kane pick themselves as does Alli (if fit) leaving the remainder of the positions to Eriksen, Wanyama, Dembele and Winks the Wunderkind depending on the formation chosen, though this is sort the sort of game where the coach might ask someone like Sissoko to show his mettle (and Carter-Vickers in place of Wimmer might turn out to be a progressive step long term.)
The Battle of Stamford Bridge is recent enough to be firmly planted in the minds of the crowd and most of the players on both sides. Eric Dier in particular might find several Chelski players looking for his wind up button, and of course playing at centre half will mean that he’s a lot closer to the evil Costa than is probably good for him. It’s important that everyone just stays calm and doesn’t rise to the copious amount of bait they’ll be presented with.
We can be very proud of our team and manager but the number of important games where we’ve not turned up went up another notch during the week. It’s becoming a habit and getting annoying. (It’s a slightly strange situation when Man City are the only ‘big’ team we can beat).
‘Turning up’ successfully this week would just involve achieving a point, nothing more. I’m not sure I fancy our chances; I know nothing though.
Resolve, Dier, Leadership, Lloris, Strength, Vertonghen, Opportunism, Kane. We can do it.
Michael Oliver is down to referee.
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